Malachi looked like a brown bat when he was found wandering near a Cleveland apartment building back in January. Weighing just 19 pounds at 1 year old, the Pit Bull mix was incredibly, dangerously underweight. His ears stuck out like wings and looked huge compared to his shriveled body. His pictures shocked the entire community, but his incredible resilience and quick recovery has been even more surprising.
“I was anticipating all these issues with him, and to be perfectly honest, there are none,” says Heather Lange, Malachi’s foster mom. “He’s a great dog.”
A great dog who had a very rough start. According to Heather, Malachi was near death when Good Samaritans spotted him moving slowly through their neighborhood eight weeks ago. The kind strangers brought the very weak dog indoors and called the Cleveland City Kennel.
“The dog warden came out, picked him up, saw his condition, and immediately called Anna Merriman who is the director of Mutts in a Rut,” Heather explains.
Malachi was then rushed to West Park Animal Hospital, where Anna works.
“They started him on IV fluids, did a full vet work up and labs,” says Heather, who frequently fosters for Mutts in a Rut and wasn’t surprised to get a phone call from Anna.
The photos that followed shocked Heather, but nothing could prepare her for meeting Malachi.
“He was even smaller than the pictures portrayed,” she recalls. “I cried. It was pretty emotional. I got down on my knees, and he licked my nose, and I was like, ‘alright, we’re gonna be friends.’”
No one knows exactly how Malachi ended up where he did, but it was clear to his medical team that he was no street dog. Those dogs don’t have a high-quality diet, but they do eat. Strays typically scrounge up enough old french fries and tossed pizza crusts to stay alive. Malachi hadn’t even been getting that.
“He was inside somewhere,” says Heather. “That was the consensus of everybody involved in his medical care, due to his lack of wounds, the lack of wear and tear on his paw pads.”
It’s believed some person or people kept Malachi indoors and gave him just the tiniest amounts of food. Knowing this was likely how he spent the first 12 months of his life, Heather was prepared for a serious case of food aggression, but Malachi surprised her.
As his body adjusted to a high-quality meal plan developed by a local dog bakery owner, Malachi proved to be quite a polite little pup at mealtimes, still showing no sign of aggression when served alongside Heather’s three dogs.
“I was shocked. I kept waiting and waiting, but he’s great,” she says.
His other social skills surprised her as well. A kennel manager at a behavior and training facility, Heather brings Malachi to work with her each day and says he gets along great with dogs of all shapes and sizes. She says he’s very friendly with people too.
“He’s been around infants, the elderly, young children — he loves everybody.”
Once so weak he had to be carried to and from bathroom breaks, Malachi is growing stronger every day. He has gained more than 11 pounds since his rescue and has impressed Heather with how quickly he caught on to training. The proud foster mom has been in touch with a police officer about possibly placing the highly intelligent pup in a drug-detection training program.
“If that doesn’t work out, we will have a lot of applications to sift through, which is fantastic,” says Heather.
“He would really benefit from going to home where he could have job or do agility — something to really put his focus into.”
Whether Malachi has a future as a police K9 or a pampered pet has yet to be determined, but one thing is clear: This dog will never go hungry again.
Heather credits the Good Samaritans with saving Malachi’s life and hopes more humans follow their example and stand up for dogs in need.
“They made that phone call when they could have walked away and ignored it — and we need more of that.”
To follow Malachi’s progress, like his Facebook page.