Animal lovers around the world cheer on recovery of malnourished dog found in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSTU) -- The story of a dog found wandering alone and malnourished in the desolate Bonneville Salt Flats has reached millions of people since Fox 13 News first reported on the rescue.

Matt Bentley said he will never forget the moment he found a badly hurt, malnourished dog in the Bonneville Salt Flats.

“I just seen something running in the distance, I wasn't sure what it was at first," he said. “Came up to me, and you could tell it was friendly, so I grabbed it, put it in Jeep."

The state's tourism site calls the salt flats “so barren not even the simplest life forms can exist.”

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“It's literally just a couple of hills, some mountains that are pretty rocky, then there are some sand dunes right next to that, and then you are on the salt flats: So I’m sure it was spending a lot of time in salty, dirty mud,” Bentley said of the area where he found the dog.

The shelter manager at the Utah Animal Adoption Center, Lila Oulson, couldn't believe her eyes.

“I have never seen a dog in that bad of shape,” she said.

The center believes she could have been wandering around out there for months.

“It had to be so cold... like over Christmas… She must have found a little area to hunker down in, but still, it couldn’t have helped her condition," Oulson said.

But this dog had an unbreakable will to survive.

“The name Kelly means warrior, and so she's going to be a fighter; she's got to fight this and get over this” Oulson said.

The center is working tirelessly to help Kelly recover.

“She just cries because the mites are itching her,” Oulson said. “She has a sarcoptic mange, which is a contagious mange, and she has had it for a long time to be totally covered with it.”

The center is trying to figure out where the dog came from, and how she ended up in the salt flats.

“I do think she may have been used for breeding,” Oulson said. “She has had puppies, you can tell that. She’s a little older. I’m hoping she's a lost pet and not that someone dumped her.”

Despite the hardship she’s faced, Kelly reminds friendly.

“She’s just sweet,” Oulson said. “She just wants to be around you.”

The center has been posting regular updates on Kelly, and people around the world have responded, with many sharing images of their pets along with their well wishes.

Bentley is among those hoping for a full recovery, and he's glad he was in the right place at the right time.

“Feels good to help someone or somebody out because I know that dog would have done that for me, I mean: man's best friend,” he said.

The Utah Animal Adoption Center says Kelly will make a full recovery. Several people have already asked if they can adopt her, but the center is waiting to see if Kelly’s owners come forward.

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