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By Sarah Smith, Forum News Service, Published January 04 2013

A poster puppy for animal rescue

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. – Six weeks ago, a starving and feces-matted Maltese crossbred was rescued from a cage in a home here where she was left to die.

This week, Angel had her stitches out from cancer surgery and seemed bright-eyed. The tail will get bushier with time.

“She’s doing great,” said her adopted mom, Rachelle Kern, who works at Headwaters Animal Shelter in Park Rapids and took the little dog in.

Angel comes to work with Rachelle every day and has become the poster child for the shelter’s Herculean efforts to save her.

“She’s even gained a pound!” Kern said.

Mammarian tumors believed to be malignant were removed from her last week at Ark Animal Hospital, which provides care at a reduced rate to the shelter.

Her prognosis is fair, Kern said. If the tumors metastasize, depending on Angel’s health, they will be removed again in the future.

Charges are pending against Angel’s former owners.

Meanwhile Angel’s wardrobe is growing thanks to her fans and Kern’s co-workers.

Thursday she was sporting a pink collar, a pink wool coat with rhinestone buttons and pink nail polish.

She had been so neglected, it took days to make her presentable. She jumps off her bed at Headwaters to greet visitors, but she keeps a close eye on Kern, her savior.

She’s adjusted well to Kern’s house full of dogs, especially the Newfoundland, and office life after abuse, Kern said.

She knows she’s special. She pushes her tiny nose into your face to nuzzle, Kern said.

“We’re crossing our fingers and hoping,” Kern said. “She’s lively and acting like a normal dog would act. There’s always a trust issue after something like that.”

And even if she’s on borrowed time, she’s living life to the fullest.