Luckily, someone else had a vision for Matilda Mae.
"When I saw her, I knew there was something magical going on underneath all those mats," Renee Martini, founder of Renee's Rescues, tells The Dodo.
Martini's organization partners with local shelters, getting a call when a dog arrives who needs extra care.
Matilda Mae, with her painfully neglected coat, along with a set of rotting teeth, was exactly that kind of case.
It seemed even the 6-year-old dog knew it.
"Initially, from what I understand from the animal control officer that brought her to me, she was very depressed," Martini says. "Almost lethargic. She wouldn't look you in the eye."
No sooner did Martini pull her from the shelter than things started looking up for this forlorn shih tzu.