What Happened When a French Bulldog Rescue Saw An Emaciated 30-Pound German Shepherd at the Shelter?

Sunny at shelter

The pictures of the emaciated German shepherd are painful to look at. Yet they have been posted on Facebook by the Friends of County Pets, the nonprofit arm of the Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas. A young, emaciated, mange-covered dog was brought to the shelter by someone who said they found her.

The frightened dog weighs only thirty pounds. The shelter was desperate for a rescue to pull her and get her the immediate veterinary care she so obviously needed.

Her picture touched the heart of Courtney Pearce. Pearce’s rescue, Short Mugs Rescue Squad, specializes in rescuing what she calls “smush-faced” dogs like French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Boston terriers and pugs. What made her decide to pull a German shepherd from the local county shelter? A dog with a “mug” that is far from short?

Pearce told Shelter Me, “She was being shared on Facebook, so I waited. They updated her status, and no one was pulling her. I checked the next morning and no one had tagged her. I assumed the German shepherd rescues were like we are – full and with no funds to help her. Growing up, we had a German shepherd, and I couldn’t leave her. I called the shelter at 10:00 am and no one had tagged her. They asked, are you going to? Can you come and get her right now? She needs to go to the vet right away.”

Pearce said she works 40 minutes from the shelter. She went and pulled the dog, now named Sunshine, or Sunny, and took her to her vet, an hour away. She got her situated and then went back to work.

Sunny after her bath — every rib showing

The veterinarian who examined her said that she should weigh around sixty pounds. She is half the size she should have been. Sunny is covered in mange and scabs. Her fur — what fur there is — especially the fur on her legs, was crusted with feces and urine. She has pressure sores on her rear that come from prolonged periods on a hard surface. It appears that she had been left in a small enclosure, perhaps a crate, for an extended period of time.

Even more horrifying, although not totally surprising given her body condition, when she was taken outside to urinate (after having been given fluids to hydrate her), at first she turned around so that she could drink her urine.

Supporting the suspicion that Sunny had been left in a crate for a really long period of time is the fact that when they went to bathe her, she was abnormally frightened of the water. Pearce explained:

Maybe she was kept in crate and someone cleaned it by hosing it down through the bars. She was shaking, screaming, and hunkering down in fear. But we had to clean her wounds out.”

This is what the original Facebook post said:

Vet notes: Dog has ulcerations and crusting on all four limbs. Crusting on face and around eyes as well. Swollen extremities and feet. Skin scrape positive for demodex. Secondary skin infection present as well with possible cellulitis. Dog is extremely emaciated: BCS 1/5. (body condition score)

THE SHELTER IS BEGGING FOR HELP! rescue needed. Harris County 281.999.3191
A476981, Owner surrendered so doesn’t have to be medical rescue. Any approved group may take immediately!!!

The rescue’s veterinarian will run tests including x-rays to get a total picture of Sunny’s condition. She is not only emaciated from starvation, she has a high white blood count from her massive skin infection. Her red blood count is low from her anemia. Sunny is loaded with parasites. Pearce said, “Maybe once the worm load is out and she’s getting good nutrition, antibiotics and fluids, she will start gaining weight.” 

Clean and warm, sleeping on something soft for the first time in her life!

The next day, Sunny’s condition was updated on Facebook. “She is able to stand and walk some, but is weak. We took her out to potty and she collapsed. She was able to get back up, though, so that is a good sign.”

Sunny is still at the vet 48 hours after her rescue. Pearce said, “I’ve been going there every two hours. You must introduce food slowly every two hours. She will probably come home on oral antibiotics and IV fluids, which I can do here. I’ll have someone coming to stay while I’m at work, and I’ll take over when I’m home.”

Pearce said that this is a standard textbook case of neglect. “I don’t understand because if you don’t want your dog, at least let it go into the street and someone will pick it up. She’s a very sweet girl. She just wants to sleep now that she’s indoors where it’s safe and warm.”

Pearce is very protective of Sunny already. Sunny was abused, and she is hand shy. That usually indicates that someone hit her. But Pearce proudly told Shelter Me how intelligent Sunny is. “She learns quickly. At first, when you’d give her a treat, she thought your finger was part of it. I’d say, gentle, and now she knows and she’s very gentle.”

Pearce looks forward to getting Sunny home — she plans to foster Sunny herself — and wrap her in a big blanket, sit with her on the floor, and give her all the love she missed out on for the first year or so of her life.

Pearce has made sure that her volunteers and supporters know that if the German shepherd’s costs are more than what has been raised specifically for Sunny, Pearce is paying the bills herself. “I don’t want anyone who has donated to us because we rescue small breeds like French bulldogs to think we are spending their money on something else.”

To help Pearce with Sunny’s extensive medical bills, visit the rescue website and click on the Paypal donate link. But make sure to specify that the donation is for Sunny!

Pamela Kramer

​Animal lover and rescuer. Lives with 4 cats, 4 dogs, 1 bird, 2 frogs and usually one foster animal (and very understanding husband). Reviews books (especially about animals) and educates children about compassion toward animals. Former household animals include rabbits, rats, and other assorted creatures. Also writes at pamelakramer.com


  1. Renee says:

    Thank you so much for taking her. I was going to go get her but I knew I didn’t have the funds to care for her the way she needed. I wonder if the person who found her actually broke her out of her prison.

  2. Shirley Hilton says:

    Thank you for everything you are doing for Sunny,
    She stole my heart too. I can’t wait to see pictures
    Of her when she feels better. You are her angel and
    You will be her first love. I understand a foster always
    Says goodbye and gets ready for the next poor soul in need. But I have a feeling Sunny is going to be a hard one to send on, hard for you both. Sending healing prayers and love to you both! 🐾❤️

  3. Christine says:

    I’ve been following this poor girl. I have a friend who is in rescue and a wonderful human being who would love to adopt this baby once she is healed. Sunny will have to be dog and cat friendly, so it’s not a done deal, but she has interest. Get well Sunny Girl – your life is just beginning!

  4. Heidi Chapman says:

    I’m in the uk and we have our own savages called fox hunters here, it seems savagery in the US alive and well also. These people deserve to be treated like the animals they harmed.

  5. Alice Hudman says:

    Thank you very much for helping and saving Sunny. Your heart is Golden. Please give Sunny a hug and kiss for us. I will donate soon. God Bless You Courtney Pierce.

  6. PJ Tonkin says:

    We’ve only fostered one dog in really bad condition, not as unbelievable as Sunshine however. Bless you for your kindness and good works. I hope that Sunshine has a wonderful life after being rescued.

  7. Judith Lustgarten says:

    Animal abuse is becoming a bigger and bigger topic. I have no doubt it will be the greatest biggest social movement of our time. Neglect and abuse to a defenseless animal is unfathomable.
    I love the protection that you’re enveloping her with. God bless you for caring for Sunshine to the point that you’re going to Foster her yourself. Sorry of spins like the sorry of LIBRE. I hope it’s a foster fail and you become her forever mom.

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