Animal Conservation

From nearly drowned to animal welfare ambassador

From being thrown into a river to drown to now being a valuable educational tool, Spirit the Alaskan Malamute has become an ambassador for animal welfare organization Hartbeespoort and his miraculous rescue is helping to raise awareness of animal welfare in South Africa.

Spirit is now living her best life.

Eight-year-old Spirit is finally living a life of doggy luxury at the All Hearts Foundation Wolf Sanctuary in Broederstroom after being cruelly tied up and thrown into a river to drown six years ago.

At the time, animal lovers across South Africa were outraged by the cruel story of animal abuse. He was tied up with wire and miraculously survived many hours in the cold river. Passers-by heard a dog moaning and upon investigation found the dog badly injured and emaciated in the river.

The Hartbeespoort couple and Wolf Sanctuary founders Lexi and Ronnie Austin happened to be driving by when the dog was found and arrested. “When a passerby told me there was a dog in the river, I jumped up and ran to the river. And there Spirit was… badly injured, tied up and near death. We untied him, got him in the car and ran to a vet, at first we didn’t think he was going to make it and then we were afraid he would lose one of his legs Lexi recounts. It looked like he had been cruelly abused for some time and was undernourished. He was exhausted, hypothermic and, besides his injured legs, had inhaled water.

Lexi and Ronnie took charge of Spirit, named after her spirit of survival. “He was one of our first trauma rescues and when he felt well enough we took him home. It was a long road to recovery. He only weighed around 25 kg He now weighs 55 kg in very good health.

Spirit when he was found in the river.

Today, Spirit is once again a proud Alaskan Malamute, living with the many rescues at the wolf sanctuary. “Over the past six years, has become an indispensable part of our All Hearts Foundation family. We use it during our educational projects in schools and in communities to raise awareness of animal abuse and the importance of animal welfare organisations,” explains Lexi. “He is now living his best life at the foundation alongside his companions and is the leader of his pack. He is just amazing with kids and has the nicest personality. One cannot understand how a person can subject such an animal to such horrific abuse. But Spirit is now where it should be, we have an incredible bond and we love it to pieces which is passionately returned.