As a dog owner and pet-sitter, Kelly Hutson spends her days surrounded by four-legged friends. But there was one pup who changed everything — all the way from Egypt.
Anubis was found in Cairo with a disfiguring injury that captured the Texas woman's heart, leading her down the road to adopting an abused rescue dog from across the globe.
Hutson says the reports about what happened to Anubis vary. When he was found beneath a car in Egypt, the dog's muzzle had been cut off, leaving him with an open nasal cavity and missing his nose and upper jaw.
"The stories go that he was barking too much and someone cut off his muzzle, or the other one is that some thieves tried to break in to wherever it was that he was living," Hutson told TODAY. "Being a good guard dog, he barked and they did what they did to him."
Hutson says she was scrolling through her Facebook feed when she saw a post from Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation (SNARR) explaining Anubis' situation and asking for applications from families interested in adopting him.
Hanan Deebes is co-founder of the Animal Protection Foundation, a group based in Egypt that assists in sheltering and re-homing abused dogs. Deebes says his organization first learned of Anubis' condition in late 2015, after hearing from people in his Cairo neighborhood that they had seen the animal roaming the streets. Immediately, volunteers from the group set out to find Anubis and rehabilitate him.
"The possibility of finding a home for Anubis was thrilling for all of us," said Deebes. "Imagine going from sleeping under cars and being hit by people ... to a loving, kind and warm home — that is a dream come true."
After taking Anubis in, the Animal Protection Foundation reached out to SNARR, hoping to find a place where Anubis could have reconstructive surgery and eventually be adopted.
A representative of SNARR told TODAY that Anubis lived with his injury for an estimated eight years before being captured. SNARR was able to secure the appropriate documents to bring Anubis to the U.S. in January 2016, then called upon volunteers to drive the dog from New York to Texas where he would be rehabilitated.
However, once Anubis arrived in the U.S., SNARR learned that reconstructing the dogs muzzle was impossible.
"Veterinarians felt, due to his age and the fact that he had learned to eat on his own, that surgery wouldn't be worth the risk as it would likely take multiple surgeries to rebuild his muzzle," the representative said.
Still, Hutson loved Anubis exactly as he was.
"I just fell in love with him when I saw his picture ... I just kept going back and reading his story and finally I said something to my husband and we decided to put in an application for adoption," said Hutson. "Honestly, I thought it was kind of a long shot, but I applied for him and then was kind of relentless in checking back with SNARR asking where we were in the process. My husband joked that they just gave me the dog so I'd be quiet."
Persistence paid off when last week, a SNARR volunteer delivered Anubis to Hutson's door.
"I was an emotional mess. I was just a mushy-gushy crybaby for the first couple hours that I had him, because I was so happy," said Hutson. "I spent a lot of time with him those first few days, just sitting on the floor with him and loving him. All he wants is to be loved on, even after someone did that to him."
Hutson says she is amazed by the minimal amount of work that goes into caring for Anubis — the dog is surprisingly not skittish or afraid, and eats in a way Huston describes as "ant-eater-like," scooping food up with his bottom jaw and tongue and swallowing it.
"Really, the only special need I see with him is the cleanup on the kitchen floor after he eats," said Hutson. "He just slides his food all over the place trying to eat it, but otherwise he is doing great. It's amazing how well he has adjusted."
For Hutson, adopting Anubis was about righting the wrong that had been done to him in Egypt.
"There, animals are not always treated like they are here," said Hutson. "It's commonplace for them to get mistreated or be beaten in the streets, and people just walk by when it's happening. There are very few shelters, which is why the group that found him partnered with SNARR."
Hutson says she is touched by how resilient Anubis is, and is honored to give him a safe haven.
"Someone inflicted this horrible injury on him, then he was taken off the streets where he knew his surroundings and shipped all the way across the world," said Hutson. "I just thought it was time for this dog to land in one spot and stay there and know that it's going to be OK — I just wanted to give him a place to call home."