When she was brought into a Spanish rescue centre, puppy Barilla’s bones were protruding through her skin and her organs were close to failing.
The starved canine was no more than a bag of bones and had so little muscle that she was unable to walk or stand when an animal lover took her in.
But just seven weeks on, Eduardo Rodriguez, the kind-hearted owner of a rescue centre in Granada, Spain, has spoken of Barilla’s remarkable recovery.
Heartbreaking: Puppy Barilla’s bones were protruding through her skin and her organs were close to failing when she was brought into an animal rescue centre in Granada, Spain, seven weeks ago
Desperate: The puppy had been so deprived of food and water that she had no muscle mass and was unable to support her own weight to walk
Animal lover: Eduardo Rodriguez, the kind-hearted owner of the rescue centre, decided to adopt Barilla and slowly nursed the badly abused dog back to health
When the pooch – named after Barilla spaghetti because she was so thin – was first admitted to the vet, it was not known whether she would survive.
She weighed just 16lbs and despite being hooked up to a drip, staff at the centre knew she could suffer organ failure at any time.
‘She’d been so starved of food and water when we took her in that all she could move was her head and her tail, Mr Rodriguez said. ‘She didn’t have any muscle mass.
‘I’ve been rescuing dogs since I was a child and I’m used to seeing them in a bad way but I’ve never seen an animal in such a terrible state as Barilla.
‘The vet said we were lucky we got her when we did because she might not have survived another night. We put her on a drip for six hours before we started feeding her.
‘We made her a type of harness to help her walk so she could gain muscle mass because she couldn’t support her own weight.’
Helpless: Little Barilla had marks on her paws and legs which are thought to have been caused when she dragged herself around. When she arrived at the centre she was at death’s door, with her bones sticking out
Helpless: The puppy weighed just 16lbs and, even though she was immediately hooked up to a drip, staff at the centre knew she could suffer organ failure at any time. She could only move her head and wag her tail
Exhausted: She had to be on the drip for six hours before staff could even risk giving her anything more substantial. But she was soon able to stand up to drink
Upsetting video footage shows emaciated Barilla looking forlornly at the camera after being rescued but still managing to wag her tail.
She was so weak after being taken in she had to eat from a basket lying down.
And even a week later, having gained 8.8lbs in weight, she was still unable to stay on her feet and crashed to the ground when she tried.
Seven weeks on and she is a new dog after wolfing down more food than she had likely ever seen in the 10-month nightmare she lived through before.
Footage of the remarkable transformation has been viewed by more than two million people on Facebook alone and touched hearts around the world.
Last night, Mr Rodriguez revealed he had adopted Barilla – thought to be a Belgian Malinois mix – after falling in love with her at first sight.
Weak: Street dogs are able to survive off rubbish, so the staff at the rescue centre think Barilla was locked up and deprived of food and water. They think the 10-month-old puppy had been mistreated since birth
Deprived: When Barilla first arrived at the animal rescue centre, she was so weak she had to eat from a basket lying down as she couldn’t support her own weight
Weight gain: Barilla began eating five or six times a day and has continued to put on weight after her rescue, thanks to the hard work of the staff at the animal rescue centre in Granada
She now shares his home on the outskirts of Granada with Mr Rodriguez’s wife and 14-year-daughter and five other dogs.
The 37-year-old said: ‘I’ve got five dogs at home with Barilla but she’s the first proper companion I’ve had since my old pet Boxer dog Turco died in an accident five years ago.’
He added: ‘Her will to live was amazing and I felt a connection with her the moment I saw her.
‘Her recovery has been staggering. From the third or fourth day she was eating five or six times a day and putting on 2lbs a day in weight.
‘She’s now up to 46lbs and is on the road to a full recovery.
‘I look back at photos of her after we rescued her and pictures of her now and she looks like a different dog.
‘We’re inseparable now. She’s so intelligent and obedient. The first day I saw her I told my colleagues I was going to keep her and that’s the way it’s been.’
Responsible: Staff at the animal centre are still investigating how the puppy came to be starved and so badly abused. They hope to find the person responsible and denounce them for animal cruelty
Bond: Barilla’s new owner Eduardo Barilla said he had adopted Barilla – thought to be a Belgian Malinois mix – after falling in love with her at first sight
Emaciated: One of the villagers told town hall officials he had discovered the animal. But police are investigating the mysterious circumstances around the discovery
Victoria Molina, a fellow worker at Dog House rescue centre which doubles as a dog hotel, said: ‘I can’t imagine why anyone would want to starve such a beautiful creature as Barilla.
‘We’re still investigating how she came to be in this state with a view to denouncing the person responsible for animal cruelty.
‘We were called by the local police who said the man who had her had supposedly found her like that.’
Ms Molina added: ‘You’d expect a dog who was living on the streets to eat from the rubbish so we think she’s been locked up somewhere and deprived of food and water.
‘She had marks on her paws and legs where we think she’d been dragging herself around because she couldn’t walk properly because of her lack of muscle mass.
‘She’s only a pup. We reckon she’s 10 months to a year old, no more than that.’
Police are still investigating the mysterious circumstances which led to one of the villagers informing town hall officials he had found the animal.
Recovery: Seven weeks on and she looks like a different dog having wolfed down more food than she had likely ever seen during the nightmare 10 months before she was rescued
Remarkable: Eduardo described Barilla’s recovery as ‘remarkable’ and said that her will to live must have been ‘staggering’ in order to survive her horrific ordeal
New home: Centre owner Eduardo Rodriguez and his wife Carolina Lopez Gonzalez have adopted Barilla, who now lives at their home with their 14-year-old daughter and their five other dogs
Mr Rodriguez added: ‘For me this is a unique case and we want to get to the bottom of what’s happened.
‘It’s may be difficult to prove who is responsible because Barilla didn’t have a microchip but we and the local police are going to try.
‘I was in a state of shock when I first set eyes on her. The vet said several times during her recovery that he’d never seen such a swift transformation and that most normal dogs would have died.’