Taiwanese stray dog gains international fame with photo series

Taiwanese stray dog gains international fame with photo series

A Taiwanese homeless dog that was rescued seven years ago and placed in a new home in the United States leapt into international fame after being featured in a photo series along with a 10-month-old baby, whose mother and professional photographer recently posted the album online. Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT) volunteers said that "Zoey" was rescued from the streets seven years ago. "It was summertime and she had been helplessly abandoned in front of a store located in Taipei's Yonghe District," recalled a volunteer. After ARTT volunteers looked after her to make sure that she fully recovered, she was flown to Los Angeles where she found a new home with Grace Chon, a commercial animal and lifestyle photographer. Grace is a second-generation Korean American and an award-winning advertising agency art director. Due to a chance encounter, she adopted Zoey from Taiwan through th...

Cross-Ocean Adoption
Large-scale rescue finds purebreds reduced to rags
Large-scale rescue finds purebreds reduced to rags Unscrupulous dog breeding operation discards more than 30 aging purebred dogs in northern Taiwan.

Taoyuan and Taichung, Taiwan, May 5, 2014


More than 30 aging purebred dogs were mercilessly dumped in a wasteland in northern Taoyuan County by an unscrupulous dog breeding operation, reported Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT).

ARTT was tipped-off days earlier of the case, which turned out to be the group's largest ever rescue of purebred dogs in 18 years. Rescued breeds included Poodle, Yorkshire, Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher, Shiba Inu, Spitz, Dachshund, French Bulldog, West Highland White Terrier and Pomeranian – all popular breeds that command high prices in the market.

But due to their advanced age and unsightly appearance, they were no longer considered of any market value so they were left there to await an ill-fated end, noted ARTT leader Joseph Nee. "How could anyone just throw away these many living creatures as if they were yesterday's paper?" he lamented.

ARTT volunteers said they suspect the perpetrators committed the cruel act in the middle of the night when they would most likely go unnoticed, and chose a remote location, a wasteland on Nanhe Road in Dayuan Township, to further avoid being spotted.

Ten-hour mission

"When we arrived at the scene, the pouring rain made it even more difficult to get a hold of the numerous dogs," recalled one rescue volunteer. "And despite their fragile condition, the abandoned dogs scrambled every which way when they saw us coming!"

In the end, volunteers spent more than 10 hours to complete the mission, successfully rounding up 18 dogs found in the premises and rushing them to a central Taichung City animal hospital for emergency treatment.

"During the course of our search, we also found several other dogs that had already either starved to death or were unfortunately killed by cars," lamented a volunteer.

Purebreds reduced to rags

The ARTT medical team that examined the rescued purebreds noted that most were female and no longer able to reproduce. Most also suffered from serious skin disease and were infested with fleas and malnourished.

Many of the dogs also showed physical signs of having been used as living "money machines" for "mass production" of puppies and as a result suffered from chronic digestive problems, among other conditions.

"Some of the dogs were in such bad shape that they were barely recognizable," said a veterinarian. "Their hair was so tangled and dirty it made them look like used, old rags."

Some others had clearly been locked up in cages for extended periods of time and hence developed psychological problems that made them behave in erratic ways, for example by hitting themselves against the wall for no reason, said the veterinarian. "It was heartbreaking to see in what condition they were brought in."

ARTT estimates that the medical bills to treat these 18 purebreds amounts to several hundred thousand NT dollars. If you would like to join in the rescue effort and make a donation, click here.

Put an end to breeding farms

Dogs and cats that are raised in breeding farms often live in appalling conditions, notes Nee. "Not only is the environment filthy, but the animals are usually crammed into small cages, making for a breeding ground of disease. Many develop severe skin conditions and even mental problems."

ARTT strongly denounces the act and notes that it is in square violation of Taiwan's Animal Protection Law and asks the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough investigation in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

But to truly combat the problem at its root, ARTT calls on the public to choose to adopt instead of buying pets so that no more innocent dogs and cats meet the same tragic fate. By doing so, not only can the public help reduce the number of dogs and cats that are euthanized in shelters, but moreover put an end to illegal breeding farms, several of which still operate throughout Taiwan.

Taiwanese stray dog gains international fame with photo series
Taiwanese stray dog gains international fame with photo series 'Zoey and Jasper' stunning photo series featuring Taiwanese former stray dog and baby becomes international sensation

Taiwan, April, 28, 2014


A Taiwanese homeless dog that was rescued seven years ago and placed in a new home in the United States leapt into international fame after being featured in a photo series along with a 10-month-old baby, whose mother and professional photographer recently posted the album online.

Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT) volunteers said that "Zoey" was rescued from the streets seven years ago. "It was summertime and she had been helplessly abandoned in front of a store located in Taipei's Yonghe District," recalled a volunteer. After ARTT volunteers looked after her to make sure that she fully recovered, she was flown to Los Angeles where she found a new home with Grace Chon, a commercial animal and lifestyle photographer.

Grace is a second-generation Korean American and an award-winning advertising agency art director. Due to a chance encounter, she adopted Zoey from Taiwan through the efforts of ARTT and a Los Angeles animal protection organization.

Grace in recent days posted a new series of portraits, "Zoey and Jasper – a Rescue Dog and her Little Boy" featuring her 10-month-old baby Jasper and Taiwanese former stray dog Zoey wearing an assortment of matching outfits, from fur, aviator, knitted and birthday hats to cool shades. The series of adorable shots became and instant sensation on the Web.

Taiwanese pride

Zoey and Jasper's "twin" photos soon incited attention from international media as well. Other than the UK's Daily Mail newspaper publishing the story, U.S. television news network also ran a feature in which ARTT's rescue and sendoff for Zoey to start a new life in the U.S. was mentioned twice. "We feel that Zoey is truly a symbol of Taiwanese pride," agreed the ARTT volunteers who rescued her seven years ago.

"My greatest hope is that I can capture the animals' most joyful and lively moments," says Grace. "I believe that is my greatest source of passion for life and sense of accomplishment."

A few years ago, she set up a pet photography studio. Later she gave birth to a mixed Chinese Korean baby, Jasper. As a new mother she was ecstatic, always trying out different outfits for the baby and the dog, but not expecting that they pair shot together would result in such stunning photos.

Grace says that Zoey likes to accompany her in long walks. "When she eats bread she leaves crumbs all over the floor!" she laughs. "I also often take Zoey on shootings of homeless dogs throughout the Greater Los Angeles area in the hopes that they too can get the chance of being adopted."

Creativity and attention to detail

After reviewing the series of photos of Zoey and Jasper that captured the Internet by storm, senior ARTT photographer Wong Zhihong said that at least in some of the shots, the boy and dog appear to have been shot separately and then superimposed into one photo. "It's not difficult to tell the subjects were shot separately from the lighting, orientation, sharpness of the objects' edges and the blue backdrop," he says.

But he adds that whether the two were actually shot at the same time or not is not what matters, what is even more noteworthy here is the photographer's degree of careful thought, creativity and attention to detail, particularly in light of the fact that pets and children are the most difficult subjects – and require double the patience – to shoot.

Compared with typical Taiwanese photography, Wong lamented that there was generally a "lack of originality" at the domestic level. Aside from photography skills, what is more important is that the photographer is willing to "put effort, spend time and have patience" in creating an original piece in order to be able to achieve works that are able to captivate people.

About cross-ocean adoptions

ARTT has rescued more than 5,000 homeless animals in more than a decade. But because it is extremely difficult to find homes for disabled animals in Taiwan, ARTT has partnered with animal protection groups in the United States and Canada for more than 10 years and has successfully placed more than 2,500 dogs and cats in new homes – something that even international animal protection groups have deemed an "impossible mission."

ARTT has tried tirelessly to find new homes in Taiwan for stray dogs and cats, but the adoption rates are extremely low. We have even had to endure some people's irrational discrimination, such as believing that white paws is not auspicious and bringing up two dogs at the same time is bad luck.

What is more, those that are adopted have a high return rate, and there are even unexplained disappearances, cases of abuse, and others that result in having to take the animal back by force, leaving Taiwanese adoptive parents sad and disappointed.

That's why for more than 10 years, ARTT has cooperated with animal rescue groups in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver, among other cities, to carry our cross-ocean adoptions and help formerly abused or otherwise disable or injured dogs in Taiwan find a new home abroad.

According to ARTT, cross-adoption follow-ups show that most families that adopt from abroad take the initiative to send photos of the cat or dog and make sure to update ARTT on how the animal is doing in its new home. Because of such good results, ARTT has made it a priority to implement cross-ocean adoptions.

Many animals that would otherwise be of little interest among would-be adopters in Taiwan, such as those with white paws, missing a leg, blind, paralyzed, physically or mentally traumatized or severely abused dogs and cats, have found happy new homes in the United States and Canada thanks to cross-ocean adoptions, making ARTT volunteers feel that their efforts on this front are well-worth it.

But carrying out cross-ocean adoptions is not without its difficulty and challenges. Even though several students and businesspeople have answered ads and applied to become "animal escorts" to accompany dogs and cats on their long journeys abroad to their new homes, often times the number is not enough.

ARTT has in the past even spent significant amount of funds to place ads on in-flight magazines to search for passengers traveling to Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Vancouver to volunteer to become "animal escorts" in order to carry on with the important mission of cross-ocean adoptions. To learn more about cross-ocean adoptions, click here

Rescuers save stray pups, break vicious cycle
Rescuers save stray pups, break vicious cycle Rescue reiterates importance of birth control among stray dog population

Kaohsiung, Taiwan, March 11, 2014


A canine family of 11 is recovering from a life on the streets after being rescued by Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT) volunteers in southern Taiwan, while a stray female found in the same spot has been neutered to prevent more abandoned litters.

ARTT volunteers received a call days earlier from a university student who notified them of a group of puppies living with their mother by the roadside of a parking lot in southern Kaohsiung City's Yanchao District.

When ARTT leader Joseph Nee arrived at the scene with rescue volunteers, they encountered several stray dogs wandering the premises. Volunteers put out cans of food to lure the dogs and while these were busy eating, the team set out to search for the puppies.

'Naughty and evasive'

"We found 10 puppies wandering by an empty plot," said one volunteer. "Even though well-meaning strangers had apparently provided a makeshift shelter for the puppies as well as food, the puppies nevertheless lived dangerously close to a busy road."

Nee and the volunteers immediately set out on their mission to place the defenseless puppies out of danger. "But the seemingly calm little guys turned out to be very naughty and evasive!" recalled Nee with a smile. "It took us quite some time and effort to chase all 10 down and secure them all in cages!"

Meanwhile, to avoid startling the puppies' mother, Nee drove the rescue vehicle around the parking lot and used an anesthetic blowgun to tranquilize her. Once she was properly sedated, she was taken into the rescue vehicle for safe transport.

Vicious cycle broken

But before driving away with the rescued lot, volunteers noticed a female dog that appeared to be in heat and that was not neutered. To avoid another litter of homeless puppies roaming around the area, rescuers decided to also take her back to the animal hospital and have her neutered.

With all 12 dogs onboard, ARTT volunteers raced back to a nearby Kaohsiung animal hospital, where they first underwent a simple deworming treatment. But after some discussion, ARTT's veterinary team decided to transport the canine family by train to central Taichung City, so that they could stay together and be treated in a more comfortable environment.

According to ARTT, a veterinary team in Taichung is currently conducting thorough examinations on the dogs. "If the medical results show no signs of serious illness, we will make sure to find them a new home so they can finally start the happy life that they deserve," said Nee.

Fate smiles on stray dog
Fate smiles on stray dog A dog's fate is changed after volunteers miss their chance of saving another

Tainan, Taiwan, February 21, 2014


A stray dog's fate was changed as it was rescued from the streets of southern Taiwan after volunteers missed their chance of saving another.

Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT) received a notification in late November of a dog with a serious skin disease wandering near Tainan City's Orthodox Lu-Erh-Men Sheng Mu Temple in Annan District.

But when volunteers arrived at the scene soon after, they discovered that said dog had already succumbed to the skin disease. "We found the corpse of the dog, hairless, bony and covered with blisters," said ARTT leader Joseph Nee. "It was a heartbreaking sight, but I'm not sure how much more we would've been able to do for the poor dog had we arrived while it was still alive."

'Filthy conditions'

According to Nee, who inspected the immediate area, there were several abandoned cats and dogs living in filthy conditions, so it was not surprising that many had been found suffering of the same highly contagious skin disease.

"How can anyone simply abandon their once cherished pets in such a terrible place?" lamented Nee.

But as volunteers were getting ready to leave, they noticed that not too far away there was another small black dog, which appeared to also suffer from a serious skin disease, for it was hairless and parts of its skin were peeling off. Fearing that this dog would soon run out of time too, Nee rushed it to a nearby animal hospital in Kaohsiung City’s Sanmin District for treatment.

Timely rescue

After ARTT's medical team examined the dog, it was also found to suffer from ehrlichiosis, an infectious bacterial disease transmitted by ticks. "Fortunately the dog was taken to hospital in time for treatment, otherwise I fear what would've happened had it been left on the street much longer," said one veterinarian.

Ehrlichiosis in some dogs can lead to symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and vomiting. If the appropriate medicine is not taken to treat it at once, the disease can be very dangerous for the dog, noted the veterinarian.

"Following a period of attentive care under ARTT medical team members' watchful eye, we are happy to report that the dog's skin disease and general condition has improved considerably," said Nee.
"As it turns out, the little black dog has a very pleasant personality," he noted. "We will make sure to help it find a new home once it is fully recovered so it will never have to live the harsh life of the streets again."

Rescuers appeal to public to help severely disfigured dog
Rescuers appeal to public to help severely disfigured dog This holiday season, do a little good by donating to a worthy cause and help a severely disfigured dog see through another year.

Miaoli, Taiwan, December 15, 2013


A dog found in central Taiwan with half of its face severely disfigured is struggling to make it through another year.

Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT) was notified in early December of a stray dog in Yuanli Township, Miaoli County, whose left side of its face was horribly disfigured. Residents suspect that the dog had been hit by a car and dragged on its left side, with the resulting friction causing the severe injuries. "Half of its face was virtually gone, and the left side of its head was also exposed, oozing blood and pus," said one resident of the area. "It was an awful sight to see."

The resident said he took the dog to seek treatment, but because of the high costs involved, decided to ask ARTT for help. The dog was rushed to an animal hospital in central Taichung City's Beitun District, where it remains in critical condition.

Upon diagnosis, ARTT's veterinary team said that when the little black dog arrived at the hospital, the entire left side of its face was exposed with deep lacerations to the muscle tissue and the wound was severely infected. A veterinarian added that even though they suspected that an external force could have been the source of the injury, the exact cause of the accident was not known. Blood tests further revealed that the dog was infected with heartworm disease.

Over the weekend, several ARTT volunteers visited the dog in Taichung. "We wanted to come and offer our support and encouragement to the poor little fellow," said one volunteer. The dog was very weary of strangers and shivered in fear at the sight of any visitors.

"In the 10 years that I've been an ARTT volunteer, I've never seen a case involving such horrible injuries," said a senior ARTT volunteer. "It is really heartbreaking to see the poor dog like this. We hope that it finds courage to survive and live through this."

ARTT said the veterinary team will provide the best medical care and make every effort to save the dog. "We will not give up, but it will take at least three months at a cost of nearly NT$100,000 (US$3,300) for the dog to recover," said the veterinarian.

Anyone who is interested in donating towards the dog's medical expenses is asked to do so by contacting ARTT. To make a donation for this and other dogs in dire need of help, click here.

Case Files

Breed: Mixed
Gender: Female
Weight: 12.9 kg
Age: About 2 years old
Conditions: Severe wound infection in a large area of the left side of the face, heartworm disease
Treatment: About three months at a cost of nearly NT$100,000

Source: Animal Emergency Rescue Team Taiwan

'Miracle dog' awaits fate following serious accident
'Miracle dog' awaits fate following serious accident Paralyzed from the waist down, half-blind and bruise and battered, a dog in southern Taiwan struggles to hang on.

Kaohsiung, Taiwan, November 29, 2013


Paralyzed from the waist down, half-blind and bruise and battered, a dog in southern Taiwan struggles to hang on long enough to continue on to its next challenge: the operating room.

Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (ARTT) was recently alerted of a dog in Yenchao District, southern Kaohsiung City, that had apparently been involved in an accident. "The dog is lying on a roadside and is seriously injured and unable to move," read the note from the animal lover who notified ARTT of the case.

A team of ARTT volunteers spent nearly half an hour searching for the dog before finally finding it lying roadside behind a wall. "The poor dog was in a terrible state," recalled one volunteer. "One of its hind legs was missing a huge chunk of flesh – it was quite shocking!"

Surprisingly, the dog was very calm, probably because of the pain it was in, suspected one volunteer. "It did not resist even a little." Volunteers wasted no time to secure the injured dog onto the rescue vehicle and rush it to a nearby animal hospital for treatment.

After careful inspection, ARTT's veterinary team found both of the dog's hind legs fractured, its right eye severely infected and oozing blood and pus, as well as several cuts and bruises in its upper body. Further tests revealed that it also suffered from anemia and its condition was highly unstable, making it unfit to undergo immediate surgery.

"After administering an emergency blood transfusion, we also noticed that it was unable to urinate and suspect it had unable to do so for already some days, so we inserted a urinary catheter to help it finally relieve itself," noted one veterinarian. The dog is currently resting and ARTT's veterinary team will monitor its progress closely to assess whether it will be ready for surgery in the next few days.

Miracle dog

"It is truly a miracle that the dog is still alive after sustaining what appears to have been a huge impact from the accident," said the veterinarian. "Because the dog was very strong, when the accident occurred, its muscles were able to lessen the impact of the hit. But also because of this, it developed rhabdomyolysis, or the rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle fibers, a condition that can lead to serious kidney failure and even death.”

"We are doing all we can to save the dog and hope it responds well to the treatment," said the veterinarian.

Since the dog was admitted into the hospital, ARTT volunteers have paid it visits round the clock to look after its every need. "It was heartbreaking to see it lying motionless on the bed day in and day out," said one volunteer. "It was in so much pain that it was unable to eat and had no appetite at all."

Positive first signs

But after a few days of rest, the dog slowly regained its appetite, reported the veterinarian. "Our hope is that it will get healthy enough so that we can operate on its several wounds as soon as possible," he said. "For now, whether the dog will survive remains to be seen."

ARTT asks that we all pray together for the dog's speedy recovery so that it can one day roam freely again.

Medical Encyclopedia:

Rhabdomyolysis is the rapid destruction of skeletal muscle, resulting in breakdown products of damaged muscle cells to be released into the bloodstream. Factors causing rhabdomyolysis are many; muscle trauma, excessive exercise, high-voltage electric shock, systemic cramps, burns or crush injury and even certain adverse drug reactions are all likely to cause rhabdomyolysis.

Muscle necrosis can occur if a large amount of potassium ions are released into the blood quickly. Some breakdown products, such as the muscle protein myoglobin, causes severe adverse effects, including:

1. Direct damage to renal tubular epithelial cells
2. Vasoconstriction caused by the kidney itself
3. Tubular obstruction and the formation of crystals in the renal tubules

The resulting acute renal failure may be fatal.