DUMPED on the side of the highway at Miriam Vale, covered in mange, grossly underweight and unable to walk, the outlook was grim for Simba.
Taken to the Gladstone Pound, there were two options for the 10-month-old pup: euthanasia or a long road to recovery.
Team RSPCA Gladstone took him in, and dog foster carer Sue-Ellen Thompson quickly offered her home as a refuge for the crossbreed.
When Simba arrived at Mrs Thompson's home on Christmas Eve last year she said "he was a bag of bones".
"I cried my eyes out once he came home and it sunk in how bad he really was," she said.
"He was grossly underweight; you could see his ribs and his backbone.
"We even had to soak his nails in salted water every night because they would bleed when he walked, because of the mange.
"I would love to be able to find the person who did this to Simba and have them prosecuted, but it would just be too hard because Simba wasn't microchipped."
The pup has been treated to love and adoration by Mrs Thompson, her husband and five children.
Now 18 weeks on, he's unrecognisable as a happy and playful pup looking for a long-term home.
While most of his fur has grown back, there's still some damage to the side of his face and parts of his body.
During his recovery, he had vet checks once a week at Harbour City Vets.
He's still shampooed twice a week by Mrs Thompson and has vitamin E cream rubbed on every week to help the rest of his fur grow back.
"He's done all the hard work, he's a real Aussie battler," she said.
"He's the one that had the will to live."
Last month Simba was desexed in preparation for his next milestone, being adopted.
Mrs Thompson said the big and playful Simba would be well suited as a family pet with older children.
For more information about Simba phone 0439709369 or visit adoptapet.com.au.
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