Huskies Izzy and King can take a few stumbling steps before they have to sit down and rest. According to the people who helped rescue them, they've come leaps and bounds from a few weeks ago, when they couldn't walk at all. 

"She’s improved rather quickly," Tacoa Allen said. "Some days she doesn’t want to eat so much, but other days she’s pretty hungry. I think her stomach is just getting used to having food in it regularly."

Allen took in Izzy, while King is being fostered by someone else in Georgia. Both dogs were rescued from a tethering situation in a backyard in Aiken.

"King and Izzy both were tethered for a long time in the sun," said Robin Mitchell, of Save the Chain Dogs, PAWS, and the Humane Society. "They had bad nutrition, so that is most of the cause from them both being semi-blind, not being able to walk properly ... the hip situation, and being disoriented."

Neighbors told Mitchell the dogs had been tethered since 2017. 

The summer months were rough on their bodies, especially during the record-breaking heat wave that swept through Aiken County on Memorial Day Weekend.

"Both dogs were also eaten by flies on their nose and ears," Mitchell said.

King, who is being cared for by Debbie Whitaker, is believed to be totally blind, and his fur was so matted it needed to be shaved in places. He frequently bumps into things, but he is friendly even to people he can't see and has a foster family waiting to take him.

"The malnutrition that these dogs have had … these dogs are supposedly 3 years old," Mitchell said. "The paperwork says they look more like 5 or 6 because of the way they’ve aged."

Despite the multiple health issues listed on their vet records, Mitchell said it is possible for Northern breeds like huskies to live outside in the South, as long as a few precautions are taken to ensure the dogs can stay cool.

"In the situation with these huskies and with any other dogs like this, they probably would have done OK because they were born and raised here," Mitchell said. "If they had been free and not tethered, and had better shade, better area to move around in, something cooler to get in or under — maybe a couple of kiddy pools out there — they would have done much better."

Mitchell, who owns three Siberian huskies, said huskies can stay cool in the heat by getting into water and wetting their paws and bellies before laying down in the shade. As long as the water is cool and they have a place to get out of the sun, the dogs will usually be fine, though she said they do best kept out of the heat.

Proper grooming is also important. Northern breeds kept in the South should be groomed regularly so their fur doesn't get matted. As long as their fur can breathe, their thick undercoat that keeps them warm will also help keep them cool.

Mitchell said breeds like huskies do much better outside if they have a bath and are brushed out once a month.

"Once a month, an hour, per dog, they would have been 90 percent better when it comes to their coat situation," Mitchell said.

Several organizations exist that can help stop animal abuse. Both Mitchell and Aiken County Animal Shelter Manager Bobby Arthurs suggest calling law enforcement to report any suspected neglect. Aiken County Code Enforcement and law enforcement can also be contacted.

Mitchell's organizations, Save the Chain Dogs and PAWS, can also help assist with neglect situations. They can be contacted through their Facebook page.

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.