An anonymous tip led Atlanta Humane Society rescue workers to a Georgia home in Murray County. Animal hoarding and a possible puppy mill operation at the property was reported, but the extent of the neglect was overwhelming.
Rescue workers found animals trapped inside a chicken wire fence along with broken plastic doghouses. Many of the animals were panting heavily and covered in dirty, matted fur–some animals had no fur at all.
One tiny hairless Boston terrier puppy stood out to the rescuers.
“We were lucky to take [the terrier], and of course, we saw her immediately,” shared Christina Hill, director of marketing and communication at Atlanta Humane Society. “She’s really precious and she’s got a really great head tilt that captured our hearts right away.”
The animals are now under the rescue workers’ care. Thankfully, some were healthy enough to be put up for adoption the next day, but the little terrier needed a lot of help.
The puppy, whom shelter workers named Abigail, had lost all her hair due to demodex mange.
Demodex mange is a condition where tiny mites burrow into the skin, causing severe irritation. Abigail was constantly itching and scratching herself, creating scabs all over her body.
When Atlanta Humane Society marketing manager Amanda Harris saw Abigail for the first time, she knew what she had to do.
“She saw her and was like, ‘I need to foster this dog, she’s adorable, I love her!'” Christina said.
Soon after, Amanda noticed how photogenic little Abigail was. Inspiration struck, and Amanda decided she would start an Instagram account for Abigail.
She also wanted to bring awareness to the pup’s health issues–and that’s how Abigail became “Scabigail.”
“She was like, ‘This will be a great way for people to engage in the work we do and it’ll be fun for me,” Christina said. “She’s super photogenic and super cute. We always see Instagram famous dogs–why don’t we try to make an Instagram famous shelter dog, and raise awareness.”
The Instagram community quickly started following and engaging with Abigail’s story, tracking her journey as she worked to grow back her hair.
“We were really excited by the community’s support and rallying behind her, asking how she was doing,” Christina shared. “It started talks about the case and animal welfare in a really interesting way, because everybody sees the happy ending stories or the really sad stories, but they don’t see the process that happens to the animal in between.”
As Abigail’s fanbase grew, she gained a famous follower–celebrity chef Alton Brown.
The Georgia-based Food Network host was scrolling through Instagram when he came across Abigail’s profile. Alton shared that he immediately fell in love with the Boston Terrier.
“Alton was posting on our page, ‘Is she up for adoption? Is this dog looking for a home?'” Christina shared.
Alton and his fiancée, Atlanta-based interior designer Elizabeth Ingram, were looking to add another member to their growing family. Abigail was the perfect addition.
“He was joking about letting her come to the studio and eat scraps off the floor of the test kitchen, and we thought, ‘This is perfect for her,'” Christina said. “This dog has had such a rough time, and for her to get the opportunity to have such a wonderful life and to be loved the way she should be loved–it’s heartwarming.”