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The Skinniest Dog and the Greatest Adventure

It’s not completely unusual for someone to walk up to our welcome desk in tears. We never get used to it. On May 8, 2023, a young woman walked through our doors and, through her tears, pointed to her car and said, “I had to get her. I couldn’t just drive by.” As we hurried outside, she said through tears, “She’s just skin and bones.” We walked out to the car and saw the saddest sight: Two big dark eyes on a black dog that was the thinnest we had ever seen alive. We all gasped. You could see, not only every bone in her body, and every vertebrae, but the outline of her skull as well. But she was still standing.


One of us said, “Thank you for bringing her here” and another said, “Hello, beautiful girl. Let’s get you inside.” We picked her up and she weighed so little. We put her down gently, scanned her for a microchip, and gave her a bowl of water that she gratefully lapped out of.


She wouldn’t have survived much longer.


Alivia means peace so we named her Alivia. We knew we would help her find peace, we just didn’t know what form it would take. We loved her instantly, even though we didn’t know what the future would hold for her.


As we got to work on a medical plan for Alivia, It was obvious that she had been caged because of the unmistakable and very strong smell of urine on her tiny body. You could actually smell it a few kennels away. She tried to scratch at her skin because it burned from the urine, but she wasn’t strong enough to stand on three legs and fell over. We decided to give her some relief with a gentle bath, to relieve some of her suffering. Then we wrapped her in towels and snuggled her in front of our special warm dryer. You should have heard the grateful little noises she made. She burrowed into the towels in her new friend’s lap and went to sleep. She was so weak and tired.


An hour after getting settled into the coziest dog bed we have, Alivia had a seizure. Our Beth rushed her to the vet and while they were stabilizing her, she had another seizure. Everyone decided that taking her to the emergency vet would give her the best chance of survival. We had only known her for a few hours, but we knew that we were going to fight for her, if her little body still could.


Our online community of supporters immediately partnered with us to raise the funds for Alivia’s emergency care! We were so grateful. And in the morning we received wonderful news: Alivia had made it through the night.


When she was discharged from Blue Pearl, Alivia spent the night with our team member Emma. Alivia had received a very special offer to foster her. It was from Mindi Callison, founder of the national organization, Bailing Out Benji. Mindi and her husband have lots of experience helping sick, elderly, and neglected animals. We knew this was the perfect temporary home for Alivia. The next day, two of us drove with Alivia to Ames, and introduced her to her foster mom, Mindi. It was such a sweet meeting.


We made our way back from Ames and over the next few days, Alivia settled into the very spoiled life as one of Mindi’s dogs. She continued her treatment and gained a few pounds in her first week there. We coordinated her treatment with her vet in Ames. Mindi’s friends sent love and sweaters.


Alivia went to work with Mindi and Mindi’s wonderful former puppy mill survivor, Eleanor, her golden retriever. Eleanor has her own Instagram social media following (@eleanorthesurvivor) Over the weeks, Alivia received excellent care at the vet and in her foster home. And she gained weight every week and did not have any more seizures!


When Mindi told us that she wanted to adopt Alivia, we were thrilled and not at all surprised. We could see their bond growing as Alivia got stronger. It looked like she was home. And she was.


Mila is her name and she has more than doubled the weight she was when she came to us. She will always be very loved and well cared for in her adoptive home. She will have the best, which we think you’ll agree, she deserves. Even more heartwarming is the fact that when Heartland Humane Society saw our story about Mila, they contacted us to see if we could take another very thin female dog, one that had been neglected and starved, then abandoned by her owner. Because we had paid Alivia’s bill with all of the generous donations towards her care, we were able to say yes to Cita! Cita went right into a foster home to begin to get healthy.






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