The staff at Trio Animal Foundation in Chicago sees lots of dogs in various stages of neglect, pain and maltreatment, but even they weren't prepared for what they would witness when another local shelter called about a dog that had been brought in September 26, 2019, with horribly matted fur.
Sang Su was brought into the shelter in an awful state. His fur was so matted and long that caregivers couldn't even tell what kind of dog he was. They knew they wouldn't be able to help the little pup with the resources they had, so they called in Trio Animal Foundation, which specializes in taking care of animals that have been severely neglected. Luckily foundation workers were up to the challenge.
Sang Su looked amorphous when the members of Trio Animal Foundation got to him. They weren't even sure what breed of dog lay trapped beneath all that matted fur. Though they had seen dogs in terrible conditions before, nothing could have prepared them for his situation.
"His fur was so tightly wrapped around his legs and ears that it was like a vice," Sue Naiden, president of Trio Animal Foundation, told The Dodo. "Due to the massive amount of urine-soaked fur that encased Sang Su's body, he was hard for people to stand by because the stench from his fur burned your nose and throat."
Still, the Trio Animal Foundation staff believed they could help the poor dog start to heal again. First, they cut away the excess hair that encased his body. It took four medical professionals two hours working simultaneously to cut off all of the matted fur. In total, they removed more than three pounds of fur. Underneath, he looked like a completely different animal.
Not only that, but the staff was surprised by his breed when all was finally revealed! Naiden had believed the dog to be a mixture of certain breeds, perhaps a poodle, Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso combination. She immediately realized, however, he was a cocker spaniel mix when she saw him without his oppressive fur.
"I have been in rescue for 20 years and this was the first time that I was wrong about the breed of the dog underneath such matted fur," she said.
Sang Su was much happier and healthier without his matted fur. He had to be sedated while it was cut off, but once he awoke, he realized he could move again without pain. It was truly an inspiring sight for the rescue staff.
In addition, Sang Su showed a remarkable desire for human contact, despite the fear his neglect had left him with. "All he wants to do is be held or lean up against you," Naiden told The Dodo. "His legs will be shaking but he still wants you to pet him."
Sang Su's journey didn't end here. While battling ear infections, he started therapy sessions with other dogs, which allowed him to learn how to socialize. The staff felt like this experience had "flipped a switch," making him happier and stronger while also reminding him of what it meant to be a dog.
Fortunately, Sang Su's story has a very happy ending. Trio Animal Foundation announced that he has found his forever home and that his life with his new mom is filled with joy and love. It doesn't get much better than that!
Sang Su's story is a reminder that people can make a difference in the lives of the smallest and most neglected creatures. It also stands as a testament to the fact that second chances are possible, no matter how bleak the present seems.