This puppy braved predators, cold rain, and starvation as she dragged her paralyzed body to rescuers.
When Poppy the puppy arrived at an elephant research camp in the northern Okavango region of Botswana, the researchers were astounded at what they were witnessing: Poppy was slowly dragging herself into the camp, dragging her legs behind her after weeks or even months of surviving on her own.
Susanne Vogel, who works at the research camp, described Poppy as immobile and determined, “but full of love and seeking help.” Despite what life had dealt her, Poppy was more than ready for these humans she had found to help her with her injuries.
When Poppy arrived, the workers at the camp weren’t sure what to do. The nearest veterinarian was an 8-hour drive away, but they knew that they couldn’t let Poppy go on living with her injuries after she braved a long trek to find them. They waited a few days until they had the time to take her in, giving her love in the meantime to tide her over and wondering how this small puppy had made it to their camp. Poppy managed to do what many young animals are unable to, and with extreme injuries, no less.
“The camp is in a remote region, filled with elephants, but also lions, hyenas and other predators,” Vogel said. “Poppy had somehow made it to us, emaciated and soaking wet from the rain.”
Finally, another worker from the camp, Graham McCulloch, packed Poppy up and the two made an 8-hour trip across dangerous roads and a ferry ride to the nearest vet. The vet discovered the grim reality of Poppy’s injuries and how she came to sustain them. According to the vet, she was 7 months old and, at a very young age, was in a horrific accident that crushed her spine and paralyzed her back legs. Whether Poppy was accidentally hit by a car or kicked cruelly by a human, her resilience after the incident is what saved her life. Despite her strength, the vet was not initially optimistic about her chances of survival.
“He said the chances were ‘slim’ she could make it through the surgery or recovery afterward,” said Amanda Stronza, another worker at the camp. “But she had so much life in her, and I knew we needed to honor her will to live and the hard fight she had already fought to find us and stay alive. I couldn’t agree to euthanize her.”
A GoFundMe was set up to cover Poppy’s $3,000 surgery, and the campaign already raised more than double their goal. Poppy recently had the surgery to repair her spine, which was necessary to save her life, and in her first attempts to stand on her back legs you can already see how strong she is. The fact that she even made it through the surgery is already a great sign of things to come.
“Her eyes pulled us in immediately,” Stronza said. “They are huge, imploring, and sparkling with life. She bursts with the sweetest spirit, and we could see that clearly, despite the desperate condition she was in.”
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