CASHIERS-HIGHLANDS, N.C — One woman joyful reunited with a dog she helped rescue from a South Korean meat farm.
Heidi Leland was living in South Korea at a year and half ago when she helped rescue 31 dogs. She bonded with one dog in particular named Caramel.
Ten of the 31 dogs ended up at the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society — including Caramel.
On Wednesday, Leland had the chance to reunite with Caramel, who was recently adopted by Eileen Anderson of Highlands.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on my knees, praying and crying that these dogs would have a better life, and to see them now, it’s hard to hold the tears back,” Leland said.
Leland said she saw deplorable conditions in South Korea.
“They’re in raised wire cages, so their paws never touch the ground,” she recalled. “They’re fed food waste. I would take bottled water with me because the pans of water were green with moss and mold.”
She said Caramel was kept in her own waste. “That’s what she slept on. That’s what she gave birth on,” Leland added.
Once freed, Leland said she took Caramel to the ocean coast.
“For the first time, she actually could smell and hear and sense freedom, and I told her, ‘You’re free now. You’re safe. Something better is in store for you,’” she said.
Caramel ended up at the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society, finding love and compassion and then a permanent home with Anderson.
“That’s why I took her because it was just so special,” Anderson said.
Upon seeing Caramel, who Anderson renamed Melle, Leland showered her with hugs and kisses.
“Look at your house. Look at where you live now. You look great, yes you do,” Leland said, convinced Caramel recognized her.
“She’s got this gorgeous yard. She’s happy. She’s healthy. She looks great. She looks wonderful, and she knows she’s loved,” she said.
This is the most amazing reunion to David Stroud, who runs the local humane society. He says this story is a lesson to people.
“I think we could learn a lot from dogs…that have been treated to about the worst that can be done. And still, will come back and love you unconditionally,” he said.
Most of the 10 dogs from South Korea at the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society are now adopted, but a couple are still looking for forever homes.
Leland will travel next to the Outer Banks to see four other dogs rescued from South Korea.