CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In roughly a month's time, a dog named Caitlyn went from being the victim in an animal abuse case that drew worldwide attention to mugging for a closeup.
The 15-month-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier (or "Staffie") mix is one of fifteen rescues who will appear with 15 Lowcountry firefighters in an annual calendar to raise money for the Charleston Animal Society, the organization that has helped Caitlyn recover for her injuries since she was found with electrical tape wrapped tightly around her muzzle in North Charleston.
"We're thrilled to have Caitlyn in the calendar, I'm so happy she was well enough to participate," Caroline Eller, who organizes the calendar for CAS, said.
Caitlyn posed with Josh Allen, a firefighter with the St. Andrews Fire Department.
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Allen visited with Caitlyn a couple of days before the shoot and spent ample time bonding with her so she would feel completely comfortable around him, Eller said.
"Rightfully so, Caitlyn is more cautious around men since it was a man that abused her but she warmed up to Josh very quickly," Eller said.
Caitlyn was on her best behavior and proved to be one of the easier rescues to photograph, she said.
At it seems the two formed a bond.
"Josh has asked to visit with her again," Eller said. "He really enjoys spending time with her."
Caitlyn's recovery was called "amazing" by one of the surgeons who treated her.
By the time she had been found then brought to the Charleston Animal Society by a Good Samaritan, her tongue had been trapped between her teeth and had lost circulation, leading veterinarians to fear that up to two-thirds of her tongue might have to be amputated.
But her recovery went much better than expected after she was transferred to a specialty care facility and treated with cold laser therapy and with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
She wound up losing only a portion of her lip and just the tip of her tongue, then underwent plastic surgery in early June to repair her cheek and lips.
On Tuesday, just more than a month after she had been found, she was moved to a medical foster home.
"It's amazing how resilient dogs are, especially Caitlyn," Eller said. "Even after suffering such horrific abuse, she is open to loving and trusting people."
All proceeds benefit Toby's Fund, Charleston Animal Society's medical fund to treat injured, abused and abandoned animals. Toby's Fund helped pay for Caitlyn's treatment.
"Our medical fund needs over $500,000 to treat the over 9,000 at risk animals who enter our doors each year," Eller said. "Our 2015 calendar funded half the needed medical expenses, netting over $250,000. We need our 2016 Calendar to completely fund our medical expenses and net over half a million."
So far, 1,500 calendars have been sold since pre-orders began on June 17. Eller says no reprint is planned.
The calendar can be pre-ordered at http://charlestonfirefightercalendar.com/shop/.