In her four years of life, Vixen has seen a lifetime of horror.
The chubby Siberian husky, now in foster care in Duncan, B.C., was being fattened up as a Taiwanese dinner delicacy when she was rescued from an illegal meat factory by an extreme group of Taiwan-based animal rescuers known as the Compassionate Mamas.
"It's hard to look at her and think they were going to eat her," said Gem Zolciak founder of Island Dogz Rescue, who is fostering Vixen.
The dog already has lost almost three kilograms and is now a relatively svelte 25 kilograms (55 pounds).
Her hips and back are slowly recovering strength after being kept in a small cage.
Vixen is among three dogs brought to Vancouver Island from Taiwan by Island Dogz this month. They represent the first shipment from Taichung Universal Animal Protection Association, a no-kill shelter that takes in stray and abandoned dogs, including those rescued from meat factories.
At the shelter, six volunteers care for more than 1,000 dogs.
Eating dogs and cats has been discouraged in Taiwan for two decades.
A 2001 law banned the killing of dogs for skin or meat. Legal loopholes were then closed by a 2004 law banning the sale of dogs as food, but underground markets still exist.
The laws are rarely enforced, said a spokeswoman for the Taichung group.
Some dogs are "farmed." Others are snatched off the street and stuffed into tiny cages until they are killed.
"Some people feel the adrenalin coursing through the body makes the meat taste better and the dogs are tortured before they are killed," Zolciak said.
Taichung group volunteer Johanna Quinn, who arranges dog shipments to rescue organizations in Canada, the U.S. and Germany, said the Compassionate Mamas go on random, nighttime raids when they hear of a factory and then turn the dogs over to rescue organizations.
Others go in undercover and buy the dogs, Quinn said.
In addition to Vixen, Mooch, a nine-year-old malamute cross, and Heidi, a nine-month-old mixed- breed puppy, are in foster care in the Cowichan Valley, 40 kilometres north of Victoria.
"I could bring 100 dogs here if I had the foster homes. We foster them before we adopt them out so we can assess their personalities," Zolciak said.
Dogs brought to Vancouver Island are checked by veterinarians and fully immunized. They are shipped from Taiwan in crates with canine amenities, usually accompanied by a human caregiver.