When Los Angeles resident Patrick Pittenger went to Google Street View to show his girlfriend where he worked, he was surprised to see the stray dog he'd been feeding for the past month.
He'd been tempted to adopt the dog he’d named Sonya. He often saw her sheltering beneath vehicles to escape the sun, and he worried about the toll the summer temperatures could take on her, but he had to consider his own dog who has immunity problems.
But Pittenger saw Sonya’s presence on Google Maps as a sign; he knew he had to rescue her.
He contacted local animal rescue group Hope For Paws, which has become well-known in the area, thanks to its heartwarming rescue videos.
Eldad Hagar, the group's co-founder, agreed to make the rescue if Pittenger could find a foster home for Sonya.
Luckily, Pittenger knew just the person for the job — his mom. She was already fostering another dog and agreed to take Sonya until they could find her a forever home.
A couple days later, Hagar rescued Sonya and she became the star of her very own viral video.
Hope For Paws took Sonya to the groomer, and once she was washed and shaved, they discovered that she was in worse shape than they thought.
The stray dog had tumors, ingrown claws and broken teeth that required surgery. She also suffered from arthritis and had bone spurs in her back. She now gets acupuncture to ease the pain.
The next time Pittenger saw Sonya, he was amazed by her transformation.
"She looked so different without all the hair," he told The Huffington Post. "I think we all got choked up and were so happy for her and us."
Sonya is now living with Pittenger's mother, but her stay won’t be temporary — she and her foster mom have both grown too attached.
"Although it took us a month to let Eldad know, I think all three of us knew Sonya was in her forever home that first day," Pittenger said. "She's so attached. She sleeps in my mom's bedroom doorway now so she can't leave without her knowing."