A special dog, who is now known as Lily, came into the caring hands of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) rescuers two years ago in 2011. Her “fighting spirit” captivated her rescuers and she was immediately given the name “Warrior.” Her rescue has since captured the hearts of animal lovers all over the world. This is her story.

A life of hardship

Lily was born in South Africa to a life of scavenging on the streets for scraps of food for survival. Although she didn’t mean to bother anyone, she was labeled a “nuisance” by the headmaster of Luhlaza Secondary School in Khayelitsha (just outside of Cape Town) after she had been hanging around the schoolyard hoping to be given some bites to eat.

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The headmaster ordered two janitors to dispose of the dog by burying her alive. Thankfully, IFAW’s full-time clinic in Khayelistha township, Mdzananda, was tipped off about the burial by an anonymous contact who saw the two men digging a pit on a school field and placing Lily alive in the hole.

Mdzananda’s veterinarian Dr. Edson Man’Ombe and animal welfare carer Lazola Sotyingwa rushed to the site to save her.

The pit was opened and revealed Lily caked in dirt and gasping for air almost five feet below the surface.

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[caption id="attachment_1481044143" align="aligncenter" width="800"]© IFAW © IFAW[/caption]

IFAW reports that Lily was “immediately named” Warrior when she was uncovered, still fighting for her life after at least 30 minutes in the earth.

[caption id="attachment_1481044144" align="aligncenter" width="800"]© IFAW © IFAW[/caption]

“This story is tragic and, as awful as this story is, without access to animal welfare, these are the kinds of desperate measures people resort to when they have nowhere to turn for help. We need more animal welfare support and humane education initiatives in our townships and schools and we need government and lawmakers to pay more attention to these issues,” said Lisa Cant-Haylett, campaign’s officer for the IFAW in a 2012 press release.

A life renewed

In this case, a humane education program was instituted at the school as part of a ruling by a Cape Town Magistrate’s Court that also tried and found the janitors and the headmaster guilty of animal cruelty and slapped them with criminal sentences and fines.

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The case also ended well on Lily’s side. After her rescue, she was taken back to Mdzananda and received two years of “loving care and physical rehabilitation” and became a “pretty, intelligent, healthy and engaged dog,” IFAW reports. She was later adopted and given a forever home by a journalist who covered her rescue in the local paper.

A life of hope

Lily’s story doesn’t end here — her warrior spirit is still carried on to this day through IFAW’s blanket drive, which is entering its second year. The drive encourages donors and supporters to write a personal message for dogs in IFAW clinics on a fabric swatch.

[caption id="attachment_1481044147" align="aligncenter" width="800"]© IFAW © IFAW[/caption]

These pieces are collected and stitched together into blankets by a local NGO and then “forwarded to clinics to keep dogs warm and comforted,” IFAW tells OGP.

[caption id="attachment_1481044146" align="aligncenter" width="800"]© IFAW © IFAW[/caption]

Lily has her own special blanket called the “Lily Blanket,” which IFAW says “celebrates the wonderful spirit that Lily showed in the face of cruelty, and the tremendous way our supporters rallied to Lily’s cry for help.”

[caption id="attachment_1481044145" align="aligncenter" width="800"]© IFAW © IFAW[/caption]

“[Her blanket] reminds us how important every single animal’s life is, and it shows us how saving one life can inspire all of us to help save many more.”

To learn more about Lily and view additional photos, visit IFAW’s blog.

Lead image source: © IFAW / Flickr