It was one of the worst cruelty cases our inspectors had ever seen – a dog chained in semi-darkness, dragging her hindquarters painfully behind her.
Kelly’s case was so bad our chief veterinarian didn’t think she’d make it through.
The old dog had endured up to 11 years of neglect before being rescued from excruciating living conditions. Incredibly, after such a horrific life, she was able to live her remaining years peacefully with adopted owners Rosemary and Lesley at their home in Cherry Gardens.
We were saddened to hear of this resilient kelpie’s passing earlier this year – in tribute to her memory, and the legacy she left, this is Kelly’s story.
‘It was as if she’d tried to get away and they just kept tying her up with more ropes’
On that fateful day in 2013, our inspectors were drawn to incessant barking coming from a shed. They quickly noticed three dogs confined to appalling living conditions – tethered on ropes tied to bits of mesh attached to thick collars and chains.
But one dog seemed far worse off than the others.
“We caught some movement at the back of the shed and you could see in the dark that there was another dog there – our hearts just absolutely sank,” RSPCA Chief Inspector Andrea recalls.
Kelly had half a dozen collars wrapped around her neck, says Andrea, “as if she’d tried to get away and they just kept tying her up with more ropes”.
And then, as our inspectors stepped past the two other dogs barking manically at the end of chains, they saw something else – a tiny puppy, just a few days old, lying on a filthy sheet.
“I can’t imagine the excruciating pain Kelly must have suffered trying to give birth through her fractured pelvis,” Chief Inspector Andrea says.
‘I didn’t think they’d be able to fix something that bad’
With a heavy heart, Chief Inspector Andrea and the inspectorate team took Kelly to our vets, expecting the worst.
“Just from my experience – I didn’t think they’d be able to fix something that bad,” Chief Inspector Andrea says.
At our Lonsdale shelter, Chief Veterinarian Brad Ward discovered Kelly had three fractures to her pelvis and nerve damage to a dislocated leg.
“It was as bad as it gets, really, without actually being incompatible with life,” he says.
“If she had more serious injuries to her internal organs, she wouldn’t have survived.”
A brave recovery and the ideal forever home
Kelly and her pup Maggie spent months recovering in foster care. While Maggie quickly found a forever home, the transition wasn’t as easy for 11-year-old Kelly.
But the beautifully gentle and affectionate kelpie would soon find the perfect home to live her final days.
Seven months after her operation, Kelly met Rosemary and her daughter Lesley, and it was love at first sight.
“I wanted her – and that was it,” Rosemary said at the time.
Part of the family after a neglectful past
As devoted dog-lovers, Rosemary and Lesley have adopted multiple dogs from RSPCA South Australia and couldn’t help but be drawn to Kelly’s simply beautiful nature.
Lesley tells us that Rosemary always treated her dogs like family, and that Kelly absolutely adored her.
“Wherever Mum was – Kelly was next to her. Whether it was the toilet, the shower, the bed. She was the most loyal dog,” Lesley says.
And Kelly wasn’t the only one shadowing Rosemary’s every movement. Within weeks of being adopted, Kelly had the company of fellow rescue dogs Jack and Poppy.
“The three of them were just best friends, they got along so fantastically well. I’ve never seen three dogs warm to one person as much as they did my mum,” Lesley says.
Kelly’s peaceful place of passing
Lesley tells us that Kelly had a favourite spot in the garden where she would lie in the sun each day. When she passed, she spent her final moments in her safe spot, a place that became her refuge of peace.
“Kelly felt so safe and secure here. It was the perfect place for her to go,” Lesley reminisces.
“Considering what she’d been through, it would be so easy for her to hate the world. But she didn’t. She was kind and gentle.”
In her final years and her final moments, Kelly was completely free of all the stress she’d endured in her previous life. We couldn’t ask for anything better.
A beautiful legacy for a gentle and brave soul
Rosemary and Lesley miss Kelly every day but are forever touched by the time they spent with her.
“Kelly’s story was so horrendous, and it just goes to show that regardless of what an animal has been through, they can have a happy and calm life no matter what. Kelly is proof of that,” Lesley says.
“I just want people to support RSPCA – you do amazing things for animals, and all dogs deserve a second chance. I would only ever rescue an animal, I would never buy.”
Rest in peace, Kelly.
We’re so thankful that Lesley and Rosemary filled Kelly’s remaining days with the love and care she truly deserved. If you’re considering opening your heart and home to a rescued animal, head over here to see all our animals currently available for adoption.