Dogs are man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean that humans always treat dogs with the love and respect they deserve. A shocked maintenance worker in Wichita, Kansas was in for the shock of his life when he found two puppies that had been abused, with their mouths tied shut by elastic hair bands. Thankfully a team of rescuers made sure these puppies were able to get a new lease on life.

14. A Burst Pipe

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The maintenance worker expected to have an ordinary day at work. He was dispatched to check out a burst pipe in a housing complex. But as soon as the man entered the suspect apartment, he knew something was amiss. There was a terrible stench emanating from the front room. The man bravely entered the apartment despite the smell. What was inside?

13. Two Dogs

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

The first thing the man witnessed inside was an apartment in disarray. The residents had apparently fled and they left a mess behind. A small plastic dog crate was in the corner of the living room. When he looked inside, he was shocked to find two puppies. The puppies were alive, but barely. He couldn’t understand why they were so quiet. Then he noticed something horrible.

12. Abused

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

Upon closer inspection, the worker realized that the puppies had been left in their own feces and urine. “There was feces and urine just spilling out the front of the kennel,” remembered Sarah Coffman, executive director of Wichita Animal Action League. “Then he noticed that the puppies couldn’t open their mouths — so he shined a flashlight in the crate and realized that they had something wrapped around their muzzles, and that their noses were really swollen and red.”

11. Bring On the Cavalry

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

Now that he knew the puppies had their mouths tied shut, he sprang into action. The man called a friend who fosters dogs for the Wichita Animal Action League. “She called us and was like, ‘I don’t know what to tell him to do,’” Coffman said. “I was like, ‘Tell him to wait right there. I’m on my way and I’m bringing the cavalry.’”

10. Rushed to the ER

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

The man soothed the puppies while they waited for help. Coffman, flanked by animal control officers, entered the apartment. They took the puppies out and sped off the vet, hoping it was not too late to save their lives. The two seven-month dogs had elastic hair ties around their nose and mouth.

9. Disgusted

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

Coffman was disgusted when she realized that the two puppies were being silenced by rubber bands. “We originally thought that it was wire wrapped around their noses because it was so tight,” Coffman explained. “When we finally got them in the vet’s office and were able to hold them still and take a look, we realized that it was little tiny rubber bands that you’d use in your hair, no bigger around than my thumb.”

8. Fighting Back Tears

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

The emergency vet responded right away. He believed that the dogs had been muzzled that way for between 12 and 24 hours. Their noses were bruised and reddened. As the vet used forceps to clip away the bands, Coffman and the animal control officers had to fight back tears. Their hearts were breaking for the dogs.

7. Terrible Pain

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

It was terrible to listen to the dogs scream in pain. “Hearing the sounds they made — we were helping them and doing the right thing — but the way that they screamed when those bands finally came off and the blood came rushing back to their nose was really quite heartbreaking,” Coffman said. Still, they knew the dogs would be okay.

6. In the Nick of Time

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Animal control had rescued the puppies just in time. According to the vet, if the bands had been left on for even a few more hours, the pups could have sustained tissue damage, loss of smell, or even death. “We really did catch them just in the nick of time,” Coffman added. The ordeal for the dogs was finally over.

5. Foster Care

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

The Wichita Animal Action League took custody of the pit bull mix puppies. They got long hot baths and were named Wesley and Debbie. Now they look like a million dollars and they are learning to trust again. They’ve been settled with a foster family to continue their rehabilitation. Both are expected to recover with out permanent damage.

4. Resiliency of Dogs

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

Wilson and Violet are prime examples of how resilient dogs can be even after terrible circumstances. “They’re such a great testament to how resilient dogs are because I certainly wouldn’t be as happy if that happened to me,” Coffman said. “But they’re playing and cuddling with their foster and having a great time.”

3. Brother and Sister

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

Like any young male dog, Wilson is very adventurous. In contrast, his sister is more laid-back. However, like any big sister Violet knows how to check her brother if he needs it. “She will tell him exactly what she thinks and put him in his place if she thinks he needs it,” Coffman explained. “So it’s really funny to see the little one beat up on the bigger one when he’s being naughty.”

2. Forever Homes

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

The puppies are eligible for adoption. The rescue has already received tons of applications from people who heard about their plight. The happy dogs will make an excellent addition to any family. In the meantime, the rescue team will continue to fight for abused animals. “Last night I just kept thinking, ‘What if that pipe hadn’t burst? Would they have been found in time? Would they have lived?’” Coffman said. “You would never think that you would be thankful for a pipe bursting and flooding an apartment, but it literally saved two lives.”

1. Animal Lovers Unite Against Abuse

Image: Wichita Animal Action League

“It makes you go home and hug your dogs a little tighter,” Coffman observed. Those who are moved by their story can apply to adopt the many animals cared for by the Wichita Animal Action League, or make a donation to the group in honor of Wilson and Violet.