The Heartbreaking Before and After Story of a Dog Dumped in Co Antrim Forest, Left to Die, and the Miraculous Journey to Recovery

Starving Ernie was days from death when he was found abandoned in Glenarriff Forest and taken to safety

He was dumped in a forest without care or conscience, abandoned to his fate and left for dead.

But five months on, thanks to the compassion of strangers, Ernie has found his forever home and will never know the terror of being alone again.

The incredible journey from near-death to living life to the full started in September 2022 when the little white Staffie was found by accident with another starving dog in a Co Antrim forest.

Julie Jenkins from Northern Ireland Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue, told DogsLive: “He was about five days from death. He couldn’t have gone on much longer. Weak, exhausted and unable to find food to proper shelter every day and every night would have weakened him more until he would have laid down to die.

“Ernie was abandoned in Glenarriff Forest with another dog and both of them were found by accident by a young man who was out walking in the area. Without hesitation, he managed to secure both of the dogs and got them into his car. He looked for owners but there was no one to be found and both dogs were in a state of advanced starvation.

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“Ernie’s ribs and hip bones were jutting out, his legs were spindly and what should have been a lovely solid head was caved in with no fat on his body at all. The other dog was also starving but somehow had fared better than Ernie and he would also be taken into rescue.

“Ernie’s rescue journey has been a long and deeply distressing one for all those involved but we feel that it’s necessary to tell his story for many reasons. From the initial phone call from the mother of the young man who found Ernie dumped in the forest to today, this story is another example of how badly dogs are treated by some, how little care or compassion or respect they are given, and just how disposable they are for some people.

But it also reveals the goodness in people, of people who understand dogs are not commodities to be used and abused at a whim, people who care enough to step in and help out where and when they can.

“When Ernie was found he was just five days or at most a week from complete starvation and ultimately death. The two dogs had been passed to animal welfare but the finder had asked if we could help Ernie once he was able to be released from them.

“There was never any doubt that we would be there for him. However, we all had to endure the long and desperate wait of almost five weeks in a formal kennel facility for him to be legally handed over to us. We believe the rules around this type of delay need to be changed for the sake of the dogs because while they are safe, there is no real emotional comfort for dogs in need like Ernie.

“When we finally got him handed to us, it was obvious he had been starved and because of his dreadful condition and the fact that he had been straying for quite some time, his tummy and insides were completely messed up.

“As soon as he arrived, Ernie paid a visit to our vets and received the very best in medical care including extensive blood tests, worming treatment, a urine test and antibiotics. He was also given some probiotics to help aid his digestion as well as being placed on a special diet. A further appointment was made for a urethral flush due to the abnormalities in his urine sample and a tummy scan to look for any internal damage.

“Our main task was to increase his weight slowly as well as toning up his muscles. We also needed to get on top of the complex urinary infection that it became apparent he had. And as each day and week passed we could see the positive changes in him. It was so joyous to see his health improving and his wonderful personality shining through.

“Despite his troubles, Ernie proved to be the most loving and affectionate of dogs and everyone who met him fell in love with him and his goofy ways.

“Ernie weighed just 13kg on the day he was found in the forest and today he weighs a healthy 23kg and our wonderful, soft natured, gentle, playful and funny Ernie has continued to thrive from the moment he came into our care.

“His weight increased at a steady, healthy rate and his personality really started to shine through. Four months into his rehabilitation programme with us, Ernie was adopted by a fantastic couple and is living the life he deserves, his best life.

“So much time and effort went into getting him healthy and ready for adoption but every second is worth it especially knowing his story has a happy ending.

“Just look at Ernie’s photos over the last five months and see what love can do. Every dog deserves the chance to be loved and Ernie pays it all back with being the best boy.”


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