When animal control officers responded to a call from a Good Samaritan about a dog with a terrible facial injury wandering the streets in Kentucky, they were met with Mirabel, a nine-year-old Jack Russell terrier who was not only missing a nose, but her upper lip as well.
The poor thing was rushed to a vet, where medical staff determined she hadn’t actually been injured; rather, she most likely had a congenital abnormality – akin to having a cleft palate. They also believed Mirabel was most likely part of a puppy mill or backyard breeding operation.
Mirabel was in bad shape, with painful mammary tumors, an inguinal hernia, and dental issues. But despite all her difficulties, she remained in good spirits, and was soon transferred to the Woodstock Animal Foundation (WAF).
WAF posted Mirabel’s story on Facebook, and soon, they raised around $6,000 in donation – far more than the goal that was needed to pay for all of her medical bills.
Even better was the moment Kelli Shook, from Toledo, Ohio, saw Mirabel’s face while watching the news. She knew the pup would be the perfect fit for her family.
“I don’t know what it was. It was just something in my heart that just knew that she seemed perfect,” Kelli told The Dodo. “She was very friendly, going up to everybody, not afraid of other animals, not afraid of people. She’s great with kids — she absolutely adores children.”
Kelli, a life coach and counselor that primarily works with children, had not only found herself a new, loving companion, but a dog that could help with her work.
“We’re starting a youth program here in our area where we can teach kids empathy by using animals that are not considered to be traditionally huggable or lovable,” Kelli said. “[Such as] animals like Mirabel, who have some sort of congenital defect or have been abused.”
“The kids don’t even care. They just think she’s so cute,” she said. “And nobody is afraid to pet her, even though her teeth are showing.”
“We try to turn it into a lesson, saying, ‘See, you’re not afraid of her and you don’t care what she looks like, so let’s try and be that way with your peers,'” Kelli explained. “‘If there is a child who looks different, let’s not treat them any differently.'”
“We’re not quite sure how long she will be around, but we’re going to make the best of the second half of her life and have her help some other kids in the meantime,” Kelli said. “Just ’cause an animal has had a bad first half of her life, that doesn’t mean she won’t make an amazing pet or therapy animal.”