For the second time in Coachella, California, a senseless act of animal cruelty has shaken the community. A tiny, defenseless puppy was badly burned and then put inside a Walmart shopping bag. She was left still clinging to life inside a Dumpster.
Alejandra Espinoza Zazueta told PEOPLE that her mother saw her clients rummaging through a dumpster right outside of the jewelry store she works in.
Zazueta’s mother figured that her clients accidentally threw something away but instead was shocked when they pulled out a Walmart bag that contained a wailing puppy, now named “Hope” after “the fighter that she is.”
Finding Hope was a real punch to the gut as it was the second time that someone in the community discovered a plastic bag containing puppies inside of a dumpster in Coachella Valley. Just the month before, Deborah Sue Culwell was accused of dumping 7 puppies in a similar fashion.
“My mom didn’t know what else to do besides call me,” Zazueta said. She arrived to find the puppy with third-degree burns on her body from her waist down to her back legs. “We didn’t know if she was going to make it.”
Zazueta said she took Hope and put her in a towel inside a small box then contacted the Sheriff’s Department and Animal Control. She later made a GoFundMe page, knowing the puppy would require extensive care.
She then drove to the local vet, praying an immediate intervention would save the tiny dog’s life. The medical team did what they could but knew Hope would need extensive around the clock treatment that would be very expensive. Hope was then transferred to Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation.
The owner of McGrath Veterinary Center, Brian McGrath, confirmed that Hope’s burns were intentional and likely caused by either chemicals or someone putting a heated object to her body.
“She is still very weak,” McGrath told PEOPLE. “At this stage, she is prone to infection so she needs daily wound management as well as fluids antibiotics and pain medication. So far, she has been responding fantastically to treatment and after a long road, we expect a full recovery.”
Zazueta says that Hope is fighting, hard. She is getting better through her treatments and has more energy. However, it seems Hope may be paralyzed in her hind legs. She still hasn’t been able to move them.
“We’re completely fine with that, we are more than willing to take her in,” Zazueta explained that she would be more than willing to get Hope a wheelchair if needed. She is devoted to her no matter what.
“She has a home and we’re waiting for her eagerly,” Zazueta added. “We have everything [for her], we’re ready, and we’re just waiting for the day that they call us and say we can go pick her up.”
While Hope’s new mom continues to fight for her survival, Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation continues to investigate surveillance footage near the crime scene. Finding the culprit is a top priority and they are offering a $10k reward for anyone that can help bring this sick individual to justice.
“We will do everything we can to hold whoever did this accountable, but will need the public’s help,” their site reads.
Hope’s new mom continues to struggle with the idea that anyone could do this in the first place. “It’s cruel, I honestly don’t understand how a person could do this to defenseless little puppies. I am mind-boggled and distraught and furious that this is what happened.”