HARDEE COUNTY, Fla.- Fighting over her toys, it’s hard to believe that one year ago, Hope the dog was fighting for her life.
“It was the most horrific case of animal abuse we’ve ever seen,” said Leigh Sockalosky of the Hardee Animal Rescue Team.
When Southwest Florida first met Hope, she was burnt over 70 percent of her body.
“Some third degree. At risk of losing both eyes, not one but both,” said Sockalosky.
Hope was doused with kerosene and lit on fire, allegedly at the hands of her former owner Larry Wallace.
“In first meeting her, to see what she went through, it was amazing to see how she reacted to us. She was wagging her tail. We could tell that she wanted a fighting chance and that’s what we gave her. We all made that decision that day.”
That decision saved her life. “The skin is healed. We have all the hair I think we are going to get back. I think the rest is going to be scars but … They are beautiful scars.”
Hope’s story of survival crossed borders, bringing in donations from all over the world. Donations that paid for Hope’s medical bills, and the bills of other animals in need.
“Donations like that, that’s where the money goes, help needy animals that are right here in this county.”
Hope has since been adopted by Leigh, the woman asked to save her life. “She’s been a true blessing, and we have a bond.”
For Hope, life isn’t just fun and games, and of course, treats, it’s about paying it forward.
“She’s pretty much with me 24/7. She greets the rescues as they come in. She really helps the animals to know I’m in a safe place.”
Former owner Larry Wallace, faced charges of arson and animal abuse. He was declared incompetent to stand trial last year. The State Attorney’s Office has now reopened his case.
Wallace’s defense attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying his client has still not improved.