When the dog was found only her muzzle and eyes were protruding from the soil.
Welfare officers were investigating a report of three poorly-treated dogs when they heard muffled whimpering from under a wooden plank. When they lifted the plank they were confronted with the sight of a dog's snout poking out of the ground as she struggled to breathe. They dug the animal out of the soil and found her muzzle had been tied shut and legs tied together with shoelaces. They also discovered she had been shot in the head.
“Star, (that’s the name which she deserves!) showed what a courageous caring, sweet, loving companion she is," Life With Dogs
quoted the Animal Welfare Department as saying. "She immediately allowed all the Animal Welfare staff to cuddle her and she even managed to wag her tail as if wanting to thank everyone! Star is living it up to her name already and is doing her very utmost to make it through this heartbreaking situation…Even though Star witnessed and lived all this cruelty from a human being she never even spared us a menacing look or a growl – she just looked at us in gratitude!!!!!”
Vets removed more than 40 lead pellets from the dog's skull.
"We literally had to spoon out pellets from under her skin," Dr Trevor Zammit told International Animal Rescue
. "The person who shot her didn't do so accidentally because she was shot from quite a close range. She probably moved while the aggressor was shooting her, coincidentally but luckily missing her brain. Part of the cartridge was still stuck under the skin. It was probably what protected her from further damage."
Star's case has resulted in people calling for tougher penalties to be imposed on those found guilty of animal cruelty in Malta.
Dr Mario Spiteri, who heads the Animal Welfare Department, said that so far only one person had been jailed for the crime.
Although people from around the world have expressed interest in adopting Star, Janice Chetcuti, of the the Animal Welfare Department, told the Times of Malta
that the dog would first be offered to the person who made the initial homing request.
The agency has many other dogs, which can be seen on their website
, available for adoption.
Star is being seen by a dog behaviourist as she recovers from her traumatic ordeal.
More than 15,000 people have clicked like on a Facebook page, called "Star: the dog who lived