Best Friends Network spotlight: Utah Animal Adoption Center

Being part of the Best Friends Network gives animal welfare groups across the country the tools they need to save more lives and the chance to work together to Save Them All.

Best Friends has network partners in every single state, and all of them are saving lives daily. We never get tired of hearing their stories, and that’s why we want to share them with you, too. So today, we're proud to present one from the Utah Animal Adoption Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Man celebrating his dog's birthday saves the life of another dog

Matt Bentley was out celebrating his own dog's third birthday, when, in the middle of nowhere, he found a skinny, hairless dog who wouldn’t have survived much longer without his help.

It was an evening in the middle of January and Matt had taken Bella, his dog, on an outing to celebrate her upcoming birthday. They were four-wheeling in an area known as the Salt Flats, about an hour and a half from Salt Lake City, Utah. Matt spotted a lone dog off in the distance, got out of his Jeep, and called to her. She came running over and got into his car.

That's when Matt realized just what bad shape the skinny dog was in: She was completely hairless with scabbed, badly infected skin and incredibly long nails.

Watch Matt’s video of the rescue

Helping a sick, stray dog

Matt also realized how fortunate it was that he and Bella were there to save her, since the nearest town is 40 miles away and no one else was around. "It's completely desolate," Matt says.

No one knew how the dog had gotten there, if she'd run away, had been abandoned or was lost. But it was clear the dog needed help.

Matt took the dog to a veterinarian, and from there she went to the Utah Animal Adoption Center in Salt Lake City, where she could get the care she needed and eventually a new home.

Dog with sarcoptic mange the ‘sweetest little girl’

She's been at the center ever since and is doing great. And according to Lila Oulson, the shelter's manager: "She is just the sweetest little girl."

Tests confirmed that the dog (since renamed Kelly) lost her hair due to a severe case of sarcoptic mange — a highly contagious condition caused by mites. So, for the last few weeks, Kelly's had to stay in an isolation room while being treated, so that other dogs in the shelter won’t be infected.

With the loving care of Lila and her staff, Kelly is getting well. She eats like a champ, is putting on weight, and her hair is beginning to grow back.

Kelly has little white tufts on her body and some black hair on her head, says Lila, who also points out that the dog has about two more weeks until she can safely be around the other dogs, a place she seems eager to be. She can hear the other dogs, and as Lila says, "She's so curious."

Until she's better, Kelly wears pajamas to protect her still-fragile skin. And luckily, she seems to enjoy the experience. "Once they're on, she just prances around like a little princess," says Lila. "This little naked dog — she's taken to wearing her pajamas really well."

Dog goes from lost to loved

It’s not surprising that Kelly has stolen the hearts of everyone at UAAC with her charming personality and resilient spirit. She's also won admirers all over the world. Lila says Kelly will likely go up for adoption in another six or so weeks. Applications have already come in from all over, and Kelly's fans have also sent in gifts, including toys and a new bed.

"When she goes home, she's going to have a carload (of gifts)," Lila says. "To see so many rally for her has been wonderful ... It's restored my faith in people."

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Photo courtesy of Utah Animal Adoption Center