Barely-alive dog in darkened cage wags tail to rescuers in faint signal of life

A dog barely clinging to life still managed to wag her tail at her rescuers despite being nearly starved to death.

Gracie, a 15-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was found by an RSPCA inspector living in a dark cage in a house, weighing just 7.3kg. The poorly pooch was so thin that her hips, ribs and shoulders were visible through her skin.

She had overgrown claws, an infection in her left eye and she collapsed as she tried to walk. Her owner shockingly revealed to animal rescue officer Marie Stevens that he kept Gracie in the cage because his wife was ill and the dog was "annoying."

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But even in her dire state, Gracie wagged her tail when Marie took her to the vet. Now, three years later, she's healthy and happy after being fostered by Heather and Paul Carter.

Heather said: "She wasn't nervous at all when we saw her at the vet. She came staggering out to see us, she could barely walk, but she came out and licked me and then she waddled over to Paul for fuss.

"I was worried that perhaps she wouldn't like men, but she's always been close to Paul, if she's ever scared of anything, she will run to Paul's side for reassurance. She's just the friendliest dog and she appreciates everything you give her, her tail does not stop wagging. We're giving her the best life and she's such a happy dog now."

Gracie was saved by Marie from a bad place in Hampshire. Heather thought Gracie might not make it, saying: "We fell in love with her from the moment we saw her. We expected her to die, if I'm honest, and we vowed to care for her for as long as she had left.

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"Now we're just thrilled she made a full recovery. She was so weak on her legs when she arrived with us that she had to be lifted onto the sofa so that she could sit with us."

"She'd roll over for tummy tickles but there was no tummy there to tickle – she was all bones. She didn't understand the concept of stairs, she'd clearly never seen a cat in her life before."

"I think she'd barely been let out of that cage as for an older dog, we were so surprised to find that all these experiences were brand new to her."

Gracie's previous owner was taken to court and banned from keeping animals for a year. He also has to do community service and pay £120. But Marie wishes he had asked for help instead of letting Gracie be ignored and not fed.

She said: "Gracie's previous owner certainly had a lot on his plate tending to his sick wife, however all Gracie needed was food. The simple and basic act of feeding a dog which would have taken him seconds each day to do.

"If he no longer wanted Gracie he could have easily reached out for help. Instead poor Gracie spent most of her life caged in darkness, ignored and slowly being starved.

"I'm so honoured to be part of the fantastic team that helped Gracie, and to see her amazing recovery. She is pure joy. All she has is love for everyone she meets. She makes me smile every time I see her."

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