A 5-year-old rescue dog who gained widespread popularity and fans across the world has died, according to her owners.
“Today is the day we’ve been dreading. Chi Chi passed away peacefully and surrounded by love. She was not in pain and did not suffer,” the family said in a Facebook post Monday. “Today she is complete in Heaven and we will miss her forever. We love her more than words can express. She changed our lives and positively impacted many people all over the world. We believe she will continue to inspire people for a long time to come. We are grateful for every day we had with her and know that 100 years with her wouldn’t have been enough. One day we will be reunited with her in Heaven. Our family is heartbroken.”
KNXV reported that Richard Howell and Elizabeth Howell adopted Chi Chi, a golden retriever, from South Korea in 2016, rescuing her from the dog meat trade. Her legs were bound and tied with wire when she was found in a dumpster when a butcher threw her out. The only way her life could be saved was if her legs could be amputated.
Elizabeth Howell knew she had to take her home to Phoenix once she saw a video of her. She and her husband and daughter, Megan, made her part of the family. She became a certified therapy dog and visited local hospitals, inspiring thousands as she got fitted with four prosthetic limbs. She drew a large following on social media on her Chi Chi Rescue Dog Facebook and Instagram pages.
She was given the Hero Therapy Dog Award by the American Humane Hero Dog Awards in September 2018.
The Arizona Republic reported Chi Chi was diagnosed with cancer in March 2018.
“She has a very aggressive tumor in her nasal cavity,” the family wrote on Facebook at the time. “The prognosis is not good.”
The family had about 11 more months with Chi Chi before she died.
The Howells took to Facebook Tuesday to thank followers in a lengthy post for their support.
“Our family is very grateful for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received over the past 24 hours,” the family wrote. “Your messages and comments are a testament to Chi Chi’s impact worldwide during her short time with our family. Your memories and encouragement are very healing to us.”
The full message can be read below.