It was an ordinary day on the beach in Thailand for Canadian model Meagan Penman, and then she spotted something that left her horrified. Her Thai holiday suddenly turned sad when a paralyzed dog approached her, dragging its body across the sand. Penman was vacationing from Ottawa, Canada in Hua Hin, Thailand and it broke her heart to see the pup in dire straits.
Nobody was coming to the poor pup’s assistance. It was apparent that without Penman’s intervention, this pup would meet a tragic end. Penman knew she had to do something, but what? She was only on vacation and this dog clearly needed serious medical care. Despite these obstacles, she was determined to not leave the helpless animal behind.
As she told The Daily Mail, “I saw what looked like half a dog sticking out of a small tide pool.” It was indeed a dog, and on closer inspection she saw that he couldn’t move his hind legs, and was forced to drag himself across the beach to get anywhere. The puppy was ridden with parasites, clearly malnourished, and likely near death — but had an affectionate demeanor. Penman sprung to action.
She quickly posted a photo of the injured dog on image site Imgur, and then took him back to the place where she was staying. But after calling numerous shelters hoping to find help and a home for the dog, there were no takers. Penman refused to give up, though.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t good news. “[I] tried to find a rescue center in the area to take him – but not one would, so I decided then that I would try to take him home with me.” The first step toward getting him home to Canada would be to have him examined and treated by a vet; something that wasn’t cheap. She created a GoFundMe and a Facebook page — Help Save Leo — to raise attention. Her story quickly took off, with many animal lovers following the saga of the pup, which she named Leo.
Meanwhile, she took Leo to a vet, where the true extent of the dog’s injuries could be determined. Naturally his legs were badly scraped from dragging himself around all the time. Worse, he had a broken back and the vet thought it unlikely he would walk again. Leo, it was also learned, had been hurt in a motorcycle accident and basically abandoned by his owner.
The adorable dog broke the internet’s heartstrings, as hundreds of animal lovers offered financial support to Penman and the crippled pup, who was less than a year old. Penman reported that vet costs and travel fees would likely be around $4,000 US. That was before the vet determined that Leo had bladder stones and an bad infection, which would cost an additional $1,000, further delaying his departure to Canada.
Penman was understandably stressed but knew in her heart it was the right thing to do. “I would not let myself take ‘no’ for an answer,” she told The Daily Mail. She ignored the advice to put Leo down and charged forward with her plan. Others clearly believed in her cause, too, and her GoFundMe reached its intended goal. Leo was on his way to Canada but the journey had just begun.
Penman was forced to leave Leo behind while she fought for permission to gain her injured dog entry into Canada. It took an exasperating three months, with Leo finally arriving in Ottawa on Oct. 17, 2014. Penman was overjoyed, but now it was time to find Leo a permanent home. She knew that her modeling lifestyle meant that she wasn’t home enough to care for a dog like Leo, so it was important to find the pup a good home. Luckily, a foster home became available through the Help Save Leo Facebook page, and Leo went to live with a woman some 400 miles away in Sarnia.
Jamie Smith was Leo’s new foster mother, and she decided to launch her own crowdfunding campaign for Leo. Leo’s condition meant that he had a lot of special care needs and she wanted to make sure she could afford the treatments. “I may be looking at adoption, but finances are a difficulty for me,” she shared. Leo was now in a loving home with someone who would do their best for him, just like Penman did. Smith created a new Facebook page – Love for Leo — to share his progress.
Due to his paralysis, Leo was unable to urinate on his own. His bladder had to be manually expressed and he had to wear diapers for his bladder leakage. Fortunately, a new drug treatment helped overcome the problem and made his care easier. Next, he received a gift that gave him a new leash on life.
His paralysis forced Leo to crawl around, but a wheelchair changed all of that. K9 Carts, located in Washington, donated the chair to give Leo the mobility he deserved. Soon he was able to chase squirrels and such like any healthy canine. Penman shared the exciting news on animal news website The Dodo.
Now Penman’s mission was complete. Leo had a home and chance at a full and happy life. Yes, thanks to the courageous rescue efforts of a young Canadian tourist, hundreds of strangers rallying their support on the internet, a Thai veterinarian, and a caring foster mom, Leo, the abandoned and crippled pup left dying on a beach in Thailand, had been saved. Leo continues to receive physical therapy and laser therapy treatments for his paralysis, and is getting stronger every day.