An abused dog whose jaw was torn off after she was used for badger baiting is set to have a happy Christmas thanks to the RSPCA.

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The brown Parson Russell terrier was discovered last Christmas wandering down a Walsall street with horrific facial injuries and taken to a vet who immediately called the animal welfare charity.

She had fresh wounds to her ears and part of her jaw was missing. The discovery of a radio transmitter collar confirmed the vet’s fears she had been used for the sinister crime of badger baiting.

RSPCA inspector Laura Bryant fondly named the dog Elf, as she was rescued just four weeks before Christmas last year.

The animal charity has launched its Kindness at Christmas Appeal to help injured, suffering and abused animals like Elf this winter and expects to receive 2000 calls a day to its 24-hour cruelty hotline this festive season.

Thankfully, Elf’s story has a happy ending after the animal welfare charity stepped in.

Inspector Bryant said: “Elf was clearly in a bad way when she was found wandering down a street. Her horrific injuries were consistent with fighting badgers, and the fact that she was wearing a radio transmitter collar – a tactic used by people who take their dogs badger baiting so that they can locate their dog when they are down in a badger sett – pretty much confirmed this.

“She had clearly been through such a lot but the one thing that struck me was how friendly she was.

“I suspected that sadly, for most of her life she was used to locate badgers in their sets, clearly taking a battering in the process and never receiving vet treatment.

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“How she ended up alone in a street we don’t know – she could have got lost in a badger sett or she could have been callously dumped.”

An appeal for information went out to the local press, but despite widespread media coverage across the region, no one ever came forward with information about her.

Meanwhile Elf, who the vet believed was around seven years old, was taken into the RSPCA’s Burton-on-Trent branch, where staff adored her.

But no one fell in love with her more than vet nurse Amber Rogers, who lives in the Staffordshire village of Tutbury.

“I fell in love with Elf when she came into our practice to be spayed,” says Amber. “The team at the RSPCA said Elf would be looking for a home, and I told them I’d be really keen to adopt her.

“She came home with me the week before Christmas and I officially adopted her on New Year’s Eve.

“She is the sweetest little dog, but even when she’s cheeky, how can I ever be cross with that little face! She spends her days playing with my six-year-old Staffie crossbreed Nancy – when they’re not running around together, they’re curled up side by side in their bed.

“Elf is also great with my 13-year-old, partially-blind English Bull Terrier, Frank, and my two cats, two bunnies, six horses and donkey. Despite her background in badger baiting, she never chases them.”

Sadly, animal cruelty doesn’t stop at Christmas and Elf’s story is just one of many seen by the RSPCA as they are expecting to care for around 19,000 animals over the festive period (DEC/JAN). The charity is bracing itself for another busy winter, as new figures from the charity show that during December(2016) and January (2017) the charity received 118,799 calls – nearly 2000 calls a day about suspected cruelty, neglect and animals in distress.

Happily for Elf, she now lives the life of luxury today, spending her days with her new friends on Amber’s 16-acre smallholding.

“The injuries to her mouth don’t affect her as much as we thought,” says Amber. “As well as having part of her jaw missing, we also discovered she has a 3cm hole in the roof of her mouth.

“Apart from the odd sneeze when some food gets stuck, she’s absolutely fine. She doesn’t have a lot of teeth left either as we think her previous owner removed some.

“She might look a bit odd, but she is the sweetest little dog, and I’m so glad I rehomed her. It’s awful to think about her terrible past, but she is very much loved now.”

To show some kindness to animals in desperate need of help this Christmas, please donate whatever you can at www.rspca.org.uk/winterappeal.