ACWORTH, Ga. – A sick and feeble white dog was found along the side of a rural road—hungry, abused and pregnant with a litter of puppies.
The yellow Labrador retriever-pit bull mix was wandering around Cherokee County’s countryside, north of Cartersville, Ga., for approximately two weeks, before a good Samaritan picked her up and reached out to Caroline Claffey, a volunteer with the Cherokee County Humane Society, who picked her up on Saturday, Dec. 30.
Claffey, of Kennesaw, Ga., quickly noticed that the dog was pregnant.
"She had just started lactating which told us that she was about to have her puppies somewhere within the next seven days," Claffey, who is now fostering the dog in her home, said.
Her teeth had been filed down and she had been overbred—but her owner could not be located.
"She was very timid. Her teeth were all broken and flat which tells us they were either deliberately filed or she broke them by probably chewing on the bars of the cage and she clearly had had a lot of litters of puppies. Her teeth were infected and overused and chewed to the point where most of them were not even producing milk at all."
And that told the dog-lover a lot about what this dog's life had been like before she was found.
Best case scenario she lived in someone's backyard, where she was not spayed, was neglected and had several litters without a lot of direction, Claffey said about the dog she named Kiah, which means, “new beginning.”
"Worst case, she grew up in a puppy mill and just had litter after litter with very little medical intervention. When we X-rayed, her when we took her to the vet we found old shotgun pellets near her spine. So, clearly she had been shot. At some point in her life."
The veterinarian estimated that she was 4 years old and performed an emergency C-section. A $900 expense for the Cherokee County Humane Society.
But all the puppies inside of her had been dead for several days.
While her life was saved, she woke up “devastated and confused," according to the Cherokee County Humane Society's Instagram page.
"It's not uncommon for dogs to be depressed if they lose puppies," Claffey said. "But Kiah's situation is a little different because typically when a dog gives birth she'll give birth to a stillborn puppy or she'll give birth to a puppy and then it dies and she has the opportunity to smell it and to see it and then to understand what happened and to accept that it has died.
"But with Kiah, she's done this a lot of times so she knows what's supposed to happen. And then this time, one day she had puppies and the next day they were gone. So, she doesn't really understand where they went or why. So, and her hormones are in overdrive. They're telling her that she's a mother but she doesn't have any babies to take care of. So, she's just sad."
Claffey tried introducing Kiah to a different litter of puppies, but she not only wasn't interested, she growled at them.
"I think she's had so many puppies she's not really big into puppies in general she just wondered where hers were."
It’s been a lonely new beginning without her puppies. So, on Tuesday, Jan. 9 her caregiver tried something that a friend suggested—she gave her foster dog some soft, cuddly stuffed animals… to be her surrogate puppies.
"I went to a toy store and I got her three little tiny ones and then one regular-sized one and then one that's for newborn babies that vibrates and plays lullabies.
"When I first put them in her box, I couldn't tell if she liked them or if she was just upset that I was putting things in her box with her. But I went up to check on her a couple of hours later and she had gathered them all close to her and had her head resting on them. And if I moved them she would follow them. So, that's helping her a little bit," Claffey said.
It's one of those things, she said, when she watches Kiah cuddle with the stuffed animals, it comes off as adorable, but then, she remembers how heartbreaking it actually is.
Kiah update: She has been home from the hospital for a few days, she seems to be suffering from depression so today her foster went out and got her some stuffed animals to help comfort her... she's not eating unless she's hand fed but we're hoping a little more time & the new fuzzy "pups" will help her heal not only physically but emotionally as well. Please keep this sweet girl in your prayers... she's been through so much ... we just want her to get well so she can get a forever home & start her new life!!!
A post shared by Cherokee County Humane Society (@cchsrescue) on
“She has been home from the hospital for a few days, she seems to be suffering from depression so today her foster went out and got her some stuffed animals to help comfort her... she's not eating unless she's hand fed but we're hoping a little more time & the new fuzzy "pups" will help her heal not only physically but emotionally as well. Please keep this sweet girl in your prayers... she's been through so much ... we just want her to get well so she can get a forever home & start her new life!!!” the Humane Society stated on Instagram.
Claffey created a GoFundMe page for Kiah’s continuing medical expenses, including heartworms that she was diagnosed with Friday.
To date, the page has raised $1,925 of $1,000 of its goal. Visit, GoFundMe.com/kiahs-new-beginning, to donate for Kiah’s care.
"Some dogs just tug on your heart strings and they shed more light on the fact that there are a hundred Kiahs just in the state of Georgia that we haven't heard of, but they're out there."
Once she is well, Claffey said, she hopes to find Kiah a forever home.
"She has a home with me for as long as it takes. But ultimately the goal is to find her someone who will love her and keep her forever," Claffey said.