Foot-long dreadlocks, matted fur and severe infestations are just some of the things that plague animals abandoned for several months to several years. Grooming and nursing provided by animal rescue organizations and humane societies has transformed malnourished and matted animals to give them a chance at a forever home and a happy ending.
A groom and a shave was the first thing on Amanda Lindsey's list when she found this Great Pyrenees, who was penned up in a small barn stall for years, with a wild overgrowth of fur from neglect. Lazarus, or "Laz," shed 35 pounds of extra fur, according to animal rescue organization Big Fluffy Dog Rescue in Nashville, Tennessee. He had difficulty walking under the weight of his own fur before he was shaved, as well as the effects of long-term confinement.
Lindsey, a BFDR coordinator, rescued Laz from his terminally ill owners last September before she adopted him and became his forever mom.
Years of neglect gave this cat tentacles an octopus would envy. Hidey was found with two pounds of matted dreadlocks blanketing her body after her elderly owner was moved to a nursing home last December. Paul Russell, a relative of Hidey's previous owner, brought the cat to the Animal Rescue League clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (now the Humane Animal Rescue) for a shave and much needed grooming. She was adopted into Russell's family shortly after.
Bert was one of four kittens found by New York City police officers responding to a 911 call. Three surviving kittens, barely a month old when they were tied up in a trash bag and thrown away, were named Bert, Elmo and Oscar and nursed back to health by the ASPCA's Kitten Nursery. All three were eventually adopted. The fourth kitten died, according to the ASPCA.
Chris gained international fame when Tammy Ven Dange, CEO of RSPCA ACT, tweeted a photo of an overgrown Merino ram found in the Australian wild, begging for a shearer to help Chris shed his extra wool. Five shearers and 40 minutes later, Chris emerged as a new ram, leaving behind a record-breaking 89-pound fleece.
Chris now spends his days at a New South Wales farm, according to Jacqueline Bunt, a spokeswoman for RSPCA ACT. His fleece, which set a Guinness World Record, was donated to the National Museum of Australia.
A 6-year-old Lhasa apso found on the streets of Leeds was so tangled and dirty that his front leg was fused to his ear and his skin pulled away from his eyes. Heidi Jenner, a chief inspector with the United Kingdom's RSPCA, claimed it was "the worst case of matted fur" she had ever seen, noting that "you [couldn't] even tell he was a dog" when he was first bought in.
Animal rescue organization Dogs Trust Leeds anesthetized and shaved the small dog, renamed Soldier, before he was taken in as a foster.
Devon, a Doberman who was found abandoned in a backyard with four other animals, was just skin and bones when she was rescued from an Australia home in New South Wales. She had a list of health issues that accompanied her emaciation — scaled over and grayed out skin, severe hair loss, sunken eyes, a mites infestation and an infected, cancerous lump on her neck.
After the lump was removed and her skin healed, Devon was fostered, then adopted, by a veterinary nurse.
Lochie was found by inspectors in his owner's overgrown backyard, where, like Hidey, long-term neglect caused the dog's fur to knot and twist into dreads around his face. Years of dirt, seeds and feces were embedded within the dog's fur, according to RSPCA ACT veterinarian Sarah Pilbeam, and took over an hour to remove.
Lochie lost vision in his left eye due to the constant pulling caused by his fur's severe matting, and it had to be surgically removed, Pilbeam said. He was adopted into a loving home a few weeks later.
Kale Chips was a staggering 85 pounds when his elderly owner surrendered him to Chicago animal rescue organization One Tail at a Time in January 2015. Heather Owen, executive director of One Tail, said Chips could "barely walk 10 feet."
Kale Chips was placed on a weight loss program and lost 41 pounds, nearly half his initial body weight. The slimmed-down pooch was adopted by his foster family at the end of his weight loss journey.