She was given a medical score of "1," the lowest a dog can get and still breathe - meaning, according to the Veterinary Medicine Center at Ohio State University, there's "no visible body fat" with ribs, pelvic bones and vertebrae "evident from a distance." In a word, she was emaciated.
"The fleas were literally crawling off her head," Hetherington says. "I've never seen an infestation of fleas like it. Ever."
And her leg was little more than mush.
"You could see that the bone was protruding right through her leg," Hetherington recalls. "God knows how long the poor dog was lying in that shed with that injury." (How she became injured in the first place is still unclear.)
Veterinarians doubted she would even survive the surgery to remove her leg.
But, perhaps a testament to a dog prized for spirit and resilience, Merci did make it.
PAWS Animal Rescue Ireland