ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
This is a photo of Charlotte shortly after she was rescued. The Chihuahua was so emaciated and her head was so horribly swollen that a woman who found her didn’t know what kind of animal she was.
(The Humane Society of Missouri/P-D)
Her eyes were swollen shut. Her head ballooned three to four times its normal size. Her throat was nearly swollen shut.
Her breathing was shallow. Bite marks dotted her head and legs. She had heart worms. She was dehydrated.
That was the condition of Charlotte, a year-old, reddish-brown Chihuahua who showed up on the porch of a St. Louis woman's home in July 2006. The woman called the Humane Society of Missouri saying she had some sort of "weird-looking animal" on her porch who was scaring her.
The "animal" was later determined to be a 4-pound emaciated Chihuahua in such critical condition that she was transferred to an emergency animal clinic after being brought to the Humane Society.
Workers cut off a plastic zip tie that was embedded in Charlotte's neck, cutting off air and causing fluid to enlarge her head. In addition, she was emaciated and had a heart murmur.
For the first eight weeks, Charlotte's health was "touch and go," but she eventually recovered enough to stay with Humane Society education specialist JoEllyn Klepacki.
"But she's always been afraid of men and loud young people."
In December, Charlotte was put up for adoption. Because of the publicity surrounding her story, 300 people applied to adopt her. But she was returned to the Humane Society soon after because of a pesky Rottweiler who was just too rambunctious with the now-healthy 6.6-pound, 2-year-old Chihuahua.
"So I decided to just keep Charlotte, myself," Klepacki said. "She means too much to me. She is perfectly healthy now, with just a slight heart murmur that doesn't bother her."
Charlotte now is a humane educator along with her housemate Yoda, an 11-year-old Austrailian cattle dog mix. They recently "talked" to 13 students of the Westgate Christian Academy who came to a class at the Humane Society about animal abuse and science careers.
The students giggled and oohed and aaahed when Charlotte and Yoda entered the classroom on a recent Friday morning. Klepacki showed the students color photos of Charlotte's swollen head and a black plastic tie similar to what nearly killed Charlotte.
A $4,000 reward was offered for information about who abused Charlotte. "Nothing has panned out on leads," Klepacki said.
"Animals have a lesson to teach us all, and we hope that Charlotte helps us get that message about the importance to treating animals well."
Charlotte has recuperated since being terribly abused and now, along with her homemate Yoda (left), helps educate children and adults about science and the horrors of animal abuse.
Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr. | Post-Dispatch All better now.