A thick scar is still visible around Maggie's neck, only partly obscured by her chocolate fur. As a puppy, Maggie was tied up outside with a too-small chain and left there for months while 4cm deep wounds festered around her neck. When the SPCA found her at the owner's property, the chain had become embedded into her neck and needed to be surgically removed.
"It took some time to gain her confidence," SPCA animal welfare inspector Jason Blair said. "She was very submissive. Her tail was between her legs. Walking on the grass was foreign to her."
Maggie's owner admitted to SPCA inspectors that he had seen and smelt her injuries. Instead of getting help, he tied her up around different parts of the garden so his children weren't upset by the wounds festering around her neck. He was sentenced to 160 hours of community work, a three-year ban on owning animals and ordered to pay $541.50 in reparations.
But Maggie has found a happy ending with Vaughan Kestle and his family, who first met his "pedigree mongrel" visiting the SPCA on a whim with his partner, Tanya Podjursky. "She was just bouncing up and down the window, trying to see people. She was quite social," Kestle said. "I liked her straight away. She's very loving. She's like my shadow ... Really, she should hate humans for the rest of her life. But dogs are remarkable things. They don't hold grudges."
Kestle sees no need to stew over the past, but believes Maggie's first owner should be banned from ever owning an animal again. Her recovery in the care of the SPCA was astounding, he said. "They've done a remarkable job. You wouldn't even believe her past, seeing her now."
But even in her new home, Maggie - now a year and a half out of the SPCA - took extra work. Though never aggressive, over the first six months she created havoc, relentlessly chasing chickens, pukeko, cats and cows around the family's lifestyle block. She was living a puppyhood she never had, Kestle said. "We'd buy her a bed and the thing would just be torn about. She'd have a big smile on her face, like, 'I did that.'