On a cold winter day in January 2015, Bret Winingar and his son, Zach, went on a relaxed motorcycle ride through the scenic landscape of Little Rock, Arkansas.
But suddenly the duo saw an object lying hidden a little way away, on a field near the road. Something told them to stop their bikes and take a closer look.
Bret and Zach saw that there was a pet carrier lying there in the weeds. Big parts of the cage had been torn apart – as if there was something inside that was making a desperate attempt to escape.
But nothing could prepare the bikers for what they would discover inside…
It was a fine winter day in January 2015 when Bret Winingar and his son took to their bikes and set out on the open roads.
When the father and son passed a rural area east of Little Rock, Arkansas, they saw a cage lying in the weeds near the road.
Something told them to stop their bikes and inspect the cage. Call it fate or a gut feeling – the bikers couldn’t help but investigate the matter further.
What they found inside was as terrible as it was life-changing.
Bret and Zach noticed that the top of the box was badly chewed.
It was obvious that someone or something inside the cage had tried desperately to escape.
Father and son opened the box… and out wandered a big, black dog, who was just skin and bones.
The cage was full of feces and the dog smelled “so strongly of death that we couldn’t stand to be downwind, her white feet stained brown after standing hunched in her own feces.”
This poor dog had been abandoned, and God knows how long she’d been trapped in the cramped cage.
She had scarring and bloody marks all over her body – she was wounded by not being able to move freely in her plastic case.
Since the men had arrived on motorcycles, they had no choice but to leave the dog on the spot as they hurried home to pick up Zach’s truck and some food.
They crossed their fingers that the dog would still be in the same spot when they came back.
And she was – when Zach and Bret returned, the dog stood there waiting for them.
”I was sure that we were too late,” wrote Bret in his Facebook post.
“But then I heard an almost inaudible growl, and I thought: ‘If you’ve got enough strength to growl, you’ve got enough strength to live’.”
The father and son carefully placed the dog in the back of Zach’s truck and drove home.
They named the grateful dog “Charlie Bravo”, after the model of Honda motorbike that they rode on that fateful day.
After a much-needed bath, Bret and his family took Charlie to the vet.
Charlie’s nails had grown so long that they had started to grow backwards into her paws.
She was in so much pain that she could hardly walk.
The vet estimated that Charlie was around 8 months old when she was rescued.
Bret initially had no intention of adopting Charlie, since he already had several dogs at home.
But as Charlie recovered and her incredible personality shone through, Bret and his family fell in love with the wonderful dog.
They simply couldn’t imagine their lives without Charlie.
“Breaking down limits, the story of Charlie’s crate has left a lasting mark in more ways than one,” Bret writes.
“Charlie was abandoned in her crate, skin over bones when we found her. To us, that crate is an analogy for every person that lives in a self-imposed prison.”
“That could be a dead-end job, an abusive relationship, chemical or alcohol addiction, or the most confining crate of all, the fear of the unknown.
Charlie is beautiful and happy and blossoming today. She reminds us that with a little help, we can do that too.”
When Charlie’s story was posted on Facebook, the Winingar family received a flood of donations to help pay for the dog’s vet costs.
They received so much money that they donated most of it to a local animal shelter!
Charlie will never be alone or neglected again!
Please share Charlie’s incredible journey with your friends on Facebook, and help us praise these animal-loving heros who are changing lives with Charlie’s inspirational story!