In the few weeks since Eldad Hagar posted a video of Fiona, a dog his nonprofit rescued last year, more than 1 million people have watched the amazing transformation of a squalid, blind stray into a fluffy, happy pup with partially restored vision.
Eldad and his wife, Audrey Hagar, have been rescuing animals in California for almost a decade, and they’ve fostered hundreds of animals out of their Los Angeles apartment through their nonprofit organization, Hope for Paws.
Eldad often posts videos of Hope for Paws’ rescue animals, so when he combined two videos of Fiona and uploaded the clip to YouTube in March, he was shocked when the heart-wrenching video went viral.
“I had this idea to combine the two videos into one video,” he told TODAY.com. “It was the best decision I ever made in my life.”
The Hagars found Fiona cowering in the corner of a trash pile more than a year ago, her fur matted and infested with fleas, and they quickly realized that the dog was blind. As the couple approached her, the tiny pup was so terrified that she urinated in fear, but the Hagars managed to coax her out and take her home.
Fiona was bathed and shaved to address her flea infestation, and the couple took her to the vet, where veterinary opthamologist Michael Chang confirmed that the dog was completely blind in both eyes. Chang said he could restore sight in one of Fiona’s eyes, so the Hagars took to the Web to raise the $4,500 she’d need for the operation.
Eldad posted a video of Fiona being rescued, bathed and shaved, along with a plea for donations to help cover the dog’s medical care. The emotional appeal worked, and Fiona underwent the life-changing operation.
"On the drive home, she was looking out the window. It was so interesting to watch everything going on,” Audrey told People. "She became a very, very happy, excited dog. Her personality changed."
Fiona, now 11, was adopted by a Southern California couple with three other dogs, and is “doing amazing,” according to Eldad.
Fiona’s emotional story has warmed hearts across the Web, and Eldad hopes his video will inspire others to care for stray animals.
“In L.A. alone we have 30,000 stray dogs at any moment. People are walking by, seeing dogs like this and doing nothing. We would just love to have people change their behavior. Call someone. Call me. Call a rescue organization. Become a foster parent to a dog,” he said.
Take a look at Fiona today, and check out the emotional video of her rescue below.
Also on MNN: 7 incredibly loyal dogs