Belky, 15, is now living her best life with her favorite unicorn plushie, as she should.

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Belky was in grave, grave trouble. The elderly, obese dog's family had abandoned her earlier this summer on the side of a Michigan highway, where she laid with puncture wounds that had become infested with maggots. 

Thankfully, a friend of that family who was aware of the situation called local police, and Belky, unable to walk at age 15, was on her way to an infinitely better life. Once she received a bevy of medical care, she was soon ready for a new home, again proving that senior dogs are just as worthy of adoption as any other pup. 

"It's not their fault that they're old and they're not doing as well," says Breanna Dalton, who adopted Belky last month. "They need just as much love as they did when they were puppies."

After the family friend alerted the police on July 13, officers found Belky along Highway 696 in Saginaw and transported her to Saginaw County Animal Care and Control (SCAC). There, Belky quickly received veterinary care that made a massive difference.

"It started with a good Samaritan who was willing to get involved," Bonnie Kanicki, director of SCAC, tells Daily Paws. "We encourage people: If you see something, say something. And we're very fortunate that many people do."

Belky's condition upon her rescue was dire. Kanicki says the pup had "severe" open wounds on her back, extensive hair loss, and was so overweight that she couldn't walk, giving SCAC reason to believe Belky was a victim of neglect. SCAC has since opened a cruelty investigation into Belky's previous owner.

"It was pretty clear that she had not been cared for for a very long time," Kanicki says.

According to her medical report provided to Daily Paws, veterinary staff shaved her matted fur, treated her wounds, and extricated the maggots. She also received flea treatment, vaccines, and much-needed medication to treat a thyroid condition that contributed to her obesity.

Black and tan Belky laying with his toys
Credit: Courtesy of the Bissel Pet Foundation

After several weeks of treatment, Kanicki reports that Belky's weight was down 20 lbs., her hair had grown back, and her wounds had closed. That meant she was finally ready to find her new forever home.

SCAC posts often on Facebook about new rescues, asking their followers to Like and Share in hopes of catching a potential adopter's attention. It worked. Staff at the Humane Society of Midland County saw a Facebook post featuring Belky and took her in, according to the Bissell Pet Foundation, whose latest "Empty the Shelters" event led to Belky's adoption. 

That's when Dalton found Belky. She saw in a post that Belky is a senior dog with health problems and thought, "I want to be the one to help her." Although senior dogs are often harder to adopt out, Dalton still was worried someone would scoop Belky up before she had the chance to meet the sweet pup. "I got lucky for her to still be there the next day," she tells Daily Paws.

On Aug. 19, just a few days after being posted for adoption, Belky went with Dalton to her new forever home in Bay City, Mich. She was one of 1,805 pets adopted during Empty the Shelters that week. 

Belking stand outdoors with girl holding a Bissell Foundation sign
Credit: Courtesy of the Bissel Pet Foundation

"To have brought [Belky] through her rehabilitation, to have her get into a wonderful home, that's a success story that inspires us to keep doing what we're doing here," Kanicki tells Daily Paws.

Belky's life has continued to improve since her adoption last month. She's now taking meds twice a day for her thyroid issue and is already shedding weight, Dalton says. 

Dropping some pounds has no doubt helped Belky walk again, too. Unable to walk when she was rescued, she now loves walks, her new orthopedic dog bed next to the air-conditioner, and her favorite unicorn plushie.

"I might not have her long, but I'm going to make sure she has the best time as long as I have her," Dalton says. "We're not here for a long time, but we're going to be here for a great time."

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include quotes from Bonnie Kanicki, director of Saginaw County Animal Care and Control.