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Photographer Stops for Picnic and Discovers Starving Puppy Abandoned on Tiny Island

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If you were to visit Belize in Central America, you might anticipate blue skies, soft sand and a breathtaking ocean view. Photographer Wesley White received all that and so much more — in the end, he also got a new best friend.

On December 2, 2018, White traveled to Belize on a work trip. With a little free time to spare, White kayaked from his hotel in Thatch Caye to a tiny island. He had no idea that what he was about to find on that small patch of land would change his life forever.

When White pulled up next to the island to enjoy a picnic, he sensed unexpected movement. A puppy was crossing the boards leading into a deserted fishing shack.

“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his tail wagging,” White told The Dodo.

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The dog was severely emaciated. The puppy would likely starve on the remote island if White didn’t take action.

“My heart exploded out of my chest,” White said. “He was just waiting for a human to show up.”

White wrapped the little dog in a pair of swimming trunks and loaded him into the kayak. On the way back to Thatch Caye, White worried about his next steps. He had less than two days left in Belize, with little time remaining to secure a home for the puppy.

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On Sunday December 2nd, 2018, while fishing among some mangroves off the the coast of Belize, @wesleywhitepro found a small emaciated dog at an unoccupied fishing shack. Clearly the puppy was near death. Wesley removed the dog from the situation and took him back to Thatch Caye. After booking a boat ride to the main land, winston was taken to Stann Creek Animal Hospital near Dangriga, Belize. Winston was found to be infested with mites, emaciated, and dehydrated, but otherwise his organs were healthy. Through the generosity of others, Wesley was able to pay for full veterinary care and fostering with the Placencia Humane Society. . . . #animalrescue #rescuedog #dogsofinstagram #thedodo #belize #placencia #thehumanesociety @hsiglobal @humanesociety @thedodo @netflixdogs #netflixdogstory

A post shared by Winston the Island Dog (@winston_bz) on

“Bringing this dog back, I really had no idea if this was going to work out like my heart wanted it to,” White said. “At the best, I was like, ‘we’ll get him home.’ He’ll end up back in Montana with us.”

White, already a dog lover, had two pups back home named Bell and Anna, according to his Facebook page. This new little critter tugged at him, though, and he was desperate to get him safe and healthy.

To White’s relief, people back at the hotel were more than willing to help. The dog enjoyed a much-needed meal while the hotel’s bartender located a veterinary office on the mainland.

“Winston was found to be infested with mites, emaciated, and dehydrated, but otherwise his organs were healthy,” White wrote on Instagram.

Shortly after dropping the puppy off at the vet, White was forced to leave his newfound friend. He had only one chance to return to his hotel before departing from Belize the following morning. The situation broke White’s heart.

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“It was like giving up my little puppy all of a sudden,” White said.

After receiving necessary treatment, the dog, named Winston, was placed in foster care.

White remained in contact with Winston’s foster mother, tracking his recovery process. In the meantime, White established a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Winston’s treatment.

About one month later, the vet approved Winston’s flight to Texas, where he would reunite with his rescuer-turned-owner. With only three days spared for travel, White rushed from Montana to Dallas.

“Is he even going to remember me?” White remembered worrying. “Well it takes him just a few moments of sniffing my feet and sniffing my pants, and I think that whatever had implanted on his brain as far as memory just came to.”

A far cry from the scrawny, floppy-eared pup that White had discovered, Winston was now a much healthier weight, and his ears stood straight up.

Winston seems to be enjoying life in his new home alongside White’s family and two canine friends. The often snowy Montana environment is a stark contrast to the warm island on which Winston was discovered, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

“Mr Winston weighs 36 pounds now!” White posted on Facebook on May 24. “24 pounds heavier than when I found him in December. Having 3 dogs is a little wild, but I’m loving it!”

Liftable, a section of The Western Journal, has reached out to White for comment but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.

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Noel Marquis is a journalist and animal-lover hailing from the Midwest. After an internship with Disney following her college graduation, she pursued a career writing content that makes readers smile. Coffee, books and superhero movies are some of her favorite things.




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