“A Still Figure in the Corner: An Anxious Soul with a Soiled Coat”

In Harbin, China, a massive property held almost 2,000 dogs. Amongst them, there was one dog who stood out for the most heart-wrenching reason – Harriet. While other dogs were full of life, playing and running around, Harriet sat motionless in a corner as if carved out of stone. Her fur was matted with dirt and grime, and her expression conveyed deep concern and sorrow.


The pooches residing in the area had identical backgrounds – most of them were either strays or saved from trucks en route to the slaughterhouses. The owner of the property provides refuge to these canines, ensuring their well-being. She also collaborates with Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors Animal Rescue (Harbin SHS), a rescue organization, by allowing them to take in distressed dogs. The rescue team identified one such dog as Harriet without delay.


During their visit to the property in May, Rachel Hinman, a volunteer for Harbin SHS, noticed a small, frightened-looking husky in the far back corner. When she reached out to the pup, it remained motionless. It was unclear where the dog came from, but it was evident that it was in poor condition. Upon closer inspection, it was apparent that the canine, later named Harriet, had been neglected. The animal’s fur was matted with feces, and it was emaciated. Harriet was so small that the rescuers mistook her for a miniature husky. Harriet quickly warmed up to the Harbin SHS team once they picked her up and barely made any noise during the ride to the vet clinic. These types of trips are all too familiar to the rescue’s founders and full-time workers, Hayley Hayes-Fitzgerald, Aimee Clarke, and Emily Parker, who are expats living in Harbin and working as teachers during the day.


According to Hinman, they initially thought that Harriet was a young puppy due to her size. However, the vet found out that she was actually around 8 months old but was stunted due to malnutrition. Fortunately, Harriet only suffered from malnutrition and matted fur, and the rescue team was able to shave off her fur, give her a bath and bring her to their center for recovery. Despite being through so much, Harriet was gentle and patient during the grooming process. With weeks of care and attention, Harriet became healthier and more confident, making her ready for her new home. After seeing Harriet’s photo online, a woman named Rosee Vallee from Canada decided to adopt her. The end of July marked the beginning of Harriet’s trip of a lifetime as she flew to San Francisco with a volunteer to meet her new mom.


Vallee shared that the moment he laid eyes on Harriet, he knew she was meant to be his. He noticed her looking sad, and he immediately wanted to bring joy into her life. Since becoming Harriet’s owner, they’ve embarked on numerous adventures together, including road trips, flights, and visits to beautiful destinations like Lake Louise in Canada. Vallee referred to Harriet as his princess, and stated that she has a friendly disposition towards everyone she meets. Harriet, who now goes by the name Bailey, is residing in Canada with Vallee and three other canine sisters, one of whom was also a rescue from Harbin SHS. In a short period of time, Harriet’s life has been transformed from a homeless, unkempt stray to a cherished member of a loving family, all thanks to the kindness of those who rescued her.


As Hinman gazed upon Harriet, a sense of warmth enveloped her heart. The true heroes of Harriet’s story were the individuals who worked together to give her a second chance. Every dog deserves a fresh start, and Harriet was a perfect example of this.
It is important to keep in mind that building trust with traumatized animals requires time and patience. Avoid making sudden movements or loud noises and allow the cat to approach at her own pace. With consistent care and compassion, the animal may gradually show signs of improvement and begin to open up to human interaction.
Above all, it is our duty to treat all animals with respect and kindness, particularly those who are vulnerable. They too deserve a chance at a better life and to feel loved and cared for by empathetic individuals.

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