Tuffy, who survived months of treatment at Animal Asia's China sanctuary, now lives with his rescuer, 30-year-old designer Yan Yingying who found the dying puppy at the bottom of the apartment building.
“The sight must have been so horrific – and I’m sure many people would have walked past and pretended not to see. But she didn’t. She took Tuffy to a local vet in Chengdu and paid for all his veterinary care. That saved his life,” said Animals Asia vet Emily Drayton in an article about Tuffy featured in Animal Asia's website.
Yan sought the help of Animals Asia after getting substandard care for Tuffy at the veterinary clinic. Aside from being under tremendous pain, Tuffy could not close his eyes to sleep as the burned skin around his eyes fused together. The same thing happened with his legs.
Animals Asia is best known for rescuing bears in the most unimaginable condition from the bear bile trade. But there's no way they could turn down “a tiny naked pup, with a red raw body that looked like a huge blister, looking out at the world with the misery of an animal who couldn’t understand why he had been punished with pain,” said Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia.
Drayton added: “As a vet you are exposed to cases of animal cruelty and neglect. It is never something you get ‘used to’ – but after a while you can become desensitized. You learn to put your emotions aside and focus on what you need to do to help. But when I saw Tuffy all of that was completely obliterated. I was shocked and sickened to my core. I could not stop the tears from rising, there was no point. Never had I seen an animal in so much pain.”
Seeing how Tuffy was bravely fighting for his life, animal experts decided the dog deserves a second chance and would not be put down. They also decided that he deserves a good name.
“A tough puppy needed a tough name, so then he became our beloved Tuffy.” said Mandala Hunter-Ishikawa, also a vet at Animals Asia.
Tuffy received free topnotch care from experts like Dr. Kieren Maddern, of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Pain Management Consultants who shared ideas on wound care and pain management for Tuffy. Dr Alane Cahalane, a specialist surgeon from the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Hong Kong, flew in for one day to operate and release Tuffy's fused legs and eyes.
With his recovery full, Tuffy was released to his new owner, Ms. Yan, who stayed with the dog through it all.
“In the beginning of Tuffy’s time with us, his head was the only place you could touch him without causing pain. Ms Yan would cradle his small face in her hand and coo ‘guai guai’ (an affectionate term for good), and he would wag his bald little tail and close his eyes,” said Hunter-Ishikawa.
Animals Asia people believe Tuffy's story, though it started as one about cruelty, is more about kindness and love.
“Time and time again we find that those who are cruel to animals are a tiny minority. Animals have the ability to bring out the best in people, and it’s true for Tuffy. His strength and bravery was incredible – but Ms Yan was equally determined he would live,” said Drayton.
Tuffy also showed everyone what a heart of a dog is made of: brave and full of love. Despite his ordeal, Tuffy still sees the good in people and is happy to be loved.
Meanwhile, Yan has found a way to hide Tuffy's large bald patches and scars by making special coats for him.
Animals Asia Cat and Dog Welfare Team hopes Tuffy's story can inspire a better future for millions of dogs. The group accepts donations to help them end animal cruelty.
Watch Tuffy's story video here.