A dog which was left with a broken spine and rotting insides is enjoying a new lease of life after being rescued from the Chinese meat market.
Toy poodle Henry was languishing in a government shelter in Shanghai with a severed spine after he was bitten by another dog.
He had no tail, was unable to walk and had open wounds through to the bone when he was saved by retired civil servant Sharon Warnock, who paid £600 to bring Henry back to her home in Northern Ireland.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘Wee Wheels’, Henry has lived with Ms Warnock, 54, for a year.
He has now amassed more than 1,500 Instagram followers and enjoys tearing along the beach in County Armagh on his specially-made ‘doggie wheels’.
He is also the official team mascot for the Ulster Superbike Championship, for which Ms Warnock volunteers, and goes on regular school visits.
Ms Warnock, who is lives alone with Henry and her other dogs, springer spaniel and collie-cross Oscar, 15, and lhaso-apso and poodle-cross Beau, five, said: ‘I love all my dogs, but it’s Henry who now rules the roost.’
She learned about Henry’s plight in January 2018 when a friend told her about three female teachers working in the city of Harbin, China, who started an animal rescue Facebook group called Slaughterhouse Survivors HRB.
Their mission was to try and get dogs like Henry out of the country and find them homes.
Ms Warnock said: ‘I travelled around China 13 years ago and caught glimpses of the dog meat trade, which people think is a one-off event with the Yulin Festival, but which is an everyday occurrence, so I started following the group.
‘Dog meat is seen as a luxury in China, so people will pay more for it than for beef or chicken and the way they make the meat more tender is by effectively torturing the dogs. It’s barbaric and we have to help stop it.
‘I had several sleepless nights trying to decide if I could offer to adopt [Henry].
‘I just kept thinking, ‘Who’s going to want him?’ The shelter wasn’t even sure he could survive the long flight out of China and if he did make it, I knew he would need a lifelong commitment to take care of him from me. I knew I needed to be 100 per cent sure I could give that.’
But Ms Warnock knew she could not abandon Henry and, a year ago, paid £600 to get the little dog out of China.
He and four other rescue dogs were flown from Beijing to Paris with Air France – the only commercial airline that will allow dogs in the cabin – escorted by Slaughterhouse rescue volunteer, Ciara Turner, 28, from Lewisham, south east London.
She added: ‘He growled when I first touched him, but he was in a lot of pain and I understood that.
‘Then, when we said our goodbyes and I strapped him into the car to bring him home with me, he looked up at me and I swear he was smiling.’
Unable to walk without help because of his broken back, Henry had arrived from China with his own set of ‘doggie wheels’ too heavy for his tiny frame.
So a friend of Ms Warnock started a GoFundMe page to raise the £400 needed to buy him some new ones.
She has also used the page to raise money to rescue dogs like Henry.
‘Henry is such a happy, cheeky and feisty little dog,’ added Ms Warnock. ‘He is a real advocate for disabled dogs and proof you can have a good quality of life even when you need wheels.’
Henry is doubly incontinent and wears a padded nappy, incontinence pads and a baby grow to stop them from slipping off.
Ms Warnock has received criticism from people who feel he should have been put to sleep.
She said: ‘Some people feel we have enough dogs here in Ireland that need homes, so why bring one from China?
‘Others think that, because of his injuries, it would have been kinder to have him euthanised.
‘But I look at how happy he is and know they are wrong, and the fact he comes from China is what helps raise awareness of the dog meat trade which we want to stop.’
In February she returned from spending three weeks in China, working as a volunteer with the Slaughterhouse Survivors group and accompanying four rescued dogs back to the UK, that had narrowly escaped becoming dog meat.
‘I had not been in a good place before I adopted Henry,’ she said. ‘I had been suffering from work-related stress and felt I had lost my way.
‘Life had started to feel like a struggle, but all that is behind me now. So, while people say I rescued Henry, I think he rescued me.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, by