As soon as a dog lover in Costa Rica discovered Leon, she rushed to give him food. It was the first meal the emaciated little dog had had in weeks.
Mercedes Mora, who helps save animals with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue – Costa Rica (CAARCR), found Leon locked up in a house last week.
No one knows exactly how he ended up being so horribly neglected — an investigation is ongoing. But rescuers wasted no time in rushing the dog, so weak he could barely lift his head, to get help.
“When I saw this bundle of skin and bones lying in his cage I had to hold myself together and try not to break down,” Tania Cappelluti, founder of CAARCR, told The Dodo. “When you rescue animals, you see a lot and you have to deal with a lot of ugly situations. Leon, unfortunately, is one of the worst cases I have ever seen.”
Cappelluti named him Leon because she wanted to give him the strength of a lion. “He was lying in his cage, with open wounds everywhere, skinny and weak,” she said. “It took my breath away.”
Despite his condition, Leon still showed signs of life in him — and this gave everyone hope.
“When our vet put some food in his bowl, he lifted his head and got all excited! He ate everything and even licked the bowl clean!” Cappelluti said. “Leon wants to live. He is a fighter.”
But because Leon was discovered to be severely anemic, he needed one very important thing to gain back his strength; that’s where a Rottweiler named Norman came in.
“We posted on several local Facebook dog lover groups in order to find a blood donor dog. It needed to be a healthy dog with more than 25 kilos [55 pounds],” Cappelluti said. “Two people got in touch, but they lived too far away and had no transport … Suddenly beautiful Norman came to my mind.”
Cappelluti called Jose Lobo — Norman’s human who happens to be an old friend of Cappelluti’s — and asked him if Norman could help Leon. Even though Lobo was very busy with work, when he heard about Leon’s situation he dropped everything to take Norman to the vet office.
Several blood tests were conducted on Norman to make sure he was healthy enough to donate and a good match for Leon; everyone breathed a deep sigh of relief when they learned that he was.
“Norman was super relaxed during the whole procedure,” Cappelluti said. “However, his dad almost passed out!”
And Lobo admits that it was a little too much for him to see — but Norman seemed perfectly fine with it.
“Norman was the ideal donor! I stayed with him the whole time, but had to leave the room when I saw all the blood,” Lobo told The Dodo. “The vet’s assistant had to bring me a glass of water … Norman, however, was extremely brave [and] relaxed. [He] had a look in his eyes, as if he was thinking, ‘It’s all good, dude, don’t worry, let’s do this!’”
Cappelluti brought some tokens of gratitude over to Norman and his family this week. He accepted them graciously, especially the bright pink tennis ball.
Norman’s family is really proud of what he did to help Leon.
The veterinarian is confident that Leon is on his way to getting his life back. Once he’s strong enough, he’ll be up for adoption.
“I was surprised,” Lobo added. “Trying to clip Norman’s nails is not as easy as taking a half liter blood out of his veins! I am not sure if that’s even possible, but I think he knew what was going on.”
What a good boy.