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Survivor: Emaciated dog rescued from Salt Flats

SALT LAKE CITY — Hairless, scabbed and emaciated, one dog shivering in a kennel at a local animal shelter is truly a survivor.

Utah Animal Adoption Center manager Lila Oulson has given her a fitting name: Kelly, which Oulson says means "warrior" in Irish Gaelic.

When Matt Bentley went four-wheeling in the Knolls area near the Bonneville Salt Flats Monday night, his trip got "cut short" with a rescue mission after he saw the dog walking alone in the "middle of nowhere," he said in a video posted to his Facebook.

The shelter later took Kelly into its care.

Oulson says there is no way to tell how Kelly was able to survive, nor how long she was in the Salt Flats. The area can reach below-freezing temperatures during the winter, with "intense" ultraviolet radiation reflecting off the salt, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

"She's so friendly, so sweet though. Hard to believe. How she even survived to that point, I don't know," Oulson said.

The reason for Kelly's shivering, Oulson says, is sarcoptic mange, scabies that causes dogs' hair to fall out, according to Pet MD.

"When I had her with the vet yesterday, she scratched her head, and then it just started bleeding," Oulson said.

Since she's been in the shelter's care, Kelly has had the "best sleep that she's had in a long time" and is eating well, she said. That's good news because Kelly is "skin and bones."

"We have her on the meds already, and I think they take awhile, but they're really effective. I'm hoping in a couple weeks that the mites are pretty much gone," Oulson said. "And then, we can start bathing her and put some coconut oil or something on that bare skin that's so pink on her."

The adoption center manager believes Kelly should make a full recovery as long as she has no "underlying conditions" that the shelter is now unaware of.

When Kelly is less fragile, the shelter plans to run a blood test to make sure she is healthy. If so, her skin should heal and her hair should grow back within 30 days, Oulson said.

"Then we'll be able to tell what kind of breed she is, because now we have no idea. Right now, I'm guessing hound," she said.

Though abandoned pets are uncommon in that area, Oulson said, Kelly may have been a breeder dog or "somebody's dog that didn't care about her," and her condition could be a result of being kept "in a mill, kennel or in their basement."

"They might've dumped her," Oulson said.

Kelly does not have a microchip, and the shelter is trying to find out if she has an owner.

"Hopefully word will get out, and maybe someone will recognize her or call and ask questions," Oulson said. "I would love to get them reunited if she's been lost."

People have already started to ask for applications to adopt Kelly if no owner is found. But the dog needs to recover and be up to date on shots before she's ready for adoption, which could take between a month to 45 days.

Though Kelly has been through extreme trauma, her spirit remains intact.

"She is such a good girl," Oulson said.

"Dogs have a spirit that's such a forgiving spirit. We've seen dogs come in that we know have been abused and they might be shy at first or scared, but with a little bit of love, they're just best friends with us," she said.

The shelter is setting up a Facebook account for Kelly as a way to potentially find her owners. Oulson encourages visiting the shelter's Facebook page to stay updated on Kelly's journey back to health.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says about 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year in the U.S. Of those, about 670,000 are euthanized.

The Utah Animal Adoption Center, a non-euthanizing shelter, adopts 1,000 dogs and cats each year, according to its website.