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Three-year-old dalmatian Emma Roo was rescued from a slaughterhouse in Xi'an, China, back in 2017, her front legs having been removed and the tips of her ears shaved her, along with part of her tail missing. It's believed in the dog meat trade that cutting an animal's limbs off produces adrenaline, which helps make the remaining meat tender.
Emma was taken to a veterinary practice in Beijing and rehomed for two years, but sadly ended up back at the clinic in 2019.
Rescue groups sought out the help of Dalmatian Rescue, a non-profit organisation in South Florida, USA, and soon after Emma caught the attention of Misha Rackcliff Hunt, 27, who adopted the three-year-old dalmatian Emma Roo in April 2020 after spotting her online.
Guest services coordinator and lifelong dog lover Misha, from Charleston in South Carolina, said: "Due to the nature of her injuries, we know that they were human inflicted. This is apparently common with 'rare' breeds who are dismembered and tortured.
"Emma has a fear of any chainsaw-like sounds such as hair dryers, vacuums, and lawn mowers.
"She has a couple of missing toes on her back paw which a vet determined to be a birth defect so it's thought she was discarded at a young age as she wouldn't be sold or adopted.
"Eventually, Emma arrived in the US on January 28, 2020 - just weeks before the export of animals was banned due to COVID-19.
"When I first brought her home, she would scream at the top of her lungs whenever I left the room. She was always protective over her food and toys. At one point, she would even guard random pieces of my clothing because she was scared that it would be taken away.
"She can be wary of men too so I chose a male massage therapist who she loves seeing weekly. It's really changed her behaviour.
"I remember first seeing Emma online - she has the most human-like amber coloured eyes. I didn't even think about the logistics of it. I knew this dog was sent to me for a reason.
"When I met her, I thought she might be cold or not interested in people from the trauma but she came up straight into my arms.
"By the time we finished our five-hour road trip home, it's like she knew I was her person and that I was never going to leave her."
Since then, Emma has gone on to attract 10,000 Instagram fans, with Misha and Dalmatian Rescue raising funds through social media to get Emma a custom front wheel cart from Eddie's Wheels.
Non-profit organisation Joey's P.A.W - which Emma is now an ambassador for - also put Misha in touch with Derrick Campana of Bionic Pets in Virginia, whosupplied Emma with some custom-made prosthetics.
Emma's recovery is now going well, and loves making friends wherever she goes.
"It's beautiful to see how much Emma's personality started to shine through a little more with each day," Misha continued.
"Emma has struggled with her cart and prosthetics because of the way she carries her body so we go to a local dog pool for water therapy. She has a massage to help with the tight muscles in her back.
"She now loves to play catch and with her stuffed toys, and she's very well behaved around other dogs at the park. She's now realising there's a whole world of activities out there.
"She loves swimming and can even swim short distances without her life vest. The beach has become one of her favourite places too. She doesn't usually bear weight on her stumps unless it's a soft surface.
"The beach is perfect for her because she can freely run around in the soft sand. I actually cried seeing how happy she was."
Misha and Emma are now using social media to warn people that the dog meat trade still very much exists, with the Yulin Dog Meat Festival taking place annually in the Guangxi region - when it is thought that around 10,000 dogs are consumed over the 10-day event.
Selling t-shirts that say 'Stand up for those who can't', Misha is also donating to organisations working hard to put a stop to the controversial industry.
"This practice is still taking place despite legislation to try and stop it and it's prevalent in several countries," Misha said.
"I try to also advocate for 'differently-abled' dogs. People always tell me how selfless and amazing I am but it's really not that hard. People think you need to be a special kind of person, but I'm not special.
"I'm just someone who believes that every dog deserves a chance no matter their circumstances.
"I've heard so many people say she should've been euthanized because of her suffering but when I look at this twenty-five-pound, happy and smiling dog, I can't imagine wanting to end her life.
"We're not the heroes, the dogs are the heroes. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are organisations out there who want to help you to give your dog the best life possible."
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