'Chi Chi' gives back: Dog rescued from meat market becomes a therapy animal
PHOENIX - One dog's amazing story of survival: Chi Chi is a golden retriever who was rescued from a South Korean meat market before being adopted by a Valley family. Now her remarkable spirit is inspiring others.
For the Howell family, Chi Chi has become the most popular member of the family, but this 3-year-old dog wasn't always this happy.
"To think of the awful things people did to her and yet she loves meeting new people all the time," said Elizabeth Howell.
Chi Chi's journey to the Valley was a painful one. She was rescued after being abandoned at a South Korean meat market two years ago. Her wounds were so bad, all four of her legs had to be amputated. Months later, the Howells came to her rescue -- by adopting Chi Chi and giving her a new chance at life.
"She's started to come around and realize she's safe now, that no one was ever going to hurt her again," said Elizabeth.
And now she's passing on that good fortune to others by bringing her infectious smile and bubbly spirit to those who need it, by becoming a therapy animal.
"She really loves spending time with people of all ages, from elderly to kids," said Elizabeth. "Some of the places we volunteer.. the VA hospital, we go to an acute rehab facility, we've been to an Alzehimer's facility, we go to an elementary school where the kids read to the dogs."
For the Howell family, Chi Chi's road to recovery and her path to help others recover is a dream come true.
"We've always had this dream that she could impact people in our community through her inspiring others and her story," said Megan Howell.
Megan has been so inspired by Chi Chi's impact on others that she's now ready to make a difference of her own.
"So I have to get certified as a junior handler so that I can experience in person how she impacts these people," she said.
The family says the next step for Chi Chi involves a new set of prosthetic legs, with the help of a specialist from Virginia.
"We are so excited that he's coming," said Elizabeth.
The family has set up a Go Fund Me account to help cover the cost of Chi Chi's new prosthetics. If you would like to help:
Chi Chi the Rescue Dog
Fundraiser to help cover costs of new prosthetic: gofundme.com/chichirescuedog