“Throw Away” Puppy Rescued from Recycling Plant is Living the Good Life

The fluffy white blur tore across the hardwood floors of a Potrero Hill apartment, skidding and tossing a red rubber bone with a mischievous glee. Patricia Aleman watched the romp with a bemused grin, extending a doggy treat for the effort.

"Gem has a lot of energy," Aleman said. "And I think time has just gone by so quickly."

By the looks of the small dog, now named Gem, time has actually soared by at light speed since the day last December when she was found battered and trembling inside a trash bag on a conveyer belt in the Recology San Francisco trash facility. A worker spotted movement in the bag and stopped the line, just several feet before she was due to plummet down what certainly would’ve been a fatal plunge.

But this dog tumbling around Aleman’s apartment bore little resemblance to the weak, emaciated dog that appeared in news footage following the incident. This dog was happy.

"Definitely her personality has come out more," Aleman said. "She’s very perky, very happy."

Nothing is known of Gem’s life before she ended-up in the trash facility - miraculously surviving among mountains of building materials and other castoffs. Now, each morning begins with a three-mile run with Aleman. Even on days when Aleman opts to sleep-in, Gem grabs her leash and waits at the door. Aleman said she rarely leaves Gem home alone, and takes her to work with her every Friday - at Recology where she works.

"I want to make sure she’s well taken care of for what happened to her," Aleman said.

Aleman was picked from a "lottery" last January by San Francisco Animal Care and Control to adopt Gem; certainly the irony of a Recology worker taking-in the dog tipped the scales in her favor.

On Saturday, Animal Care and Control will honor Aleman, Gem and her rescuer Gregory Foster at its 25th anniversary gala. On Tuesday Foster and Aleman met for the first time, with Foster marveling at Gem’s transformation.

"She didn’t look like she was gonna make it honestly," Foster told Aleman sharing a bench in a park in Recology. "I’m very excited, glad to see she’s doing well."

Aleman said when Gem first came to her home home, she rarely ventured out of her crate. Now, she has the run of the apartment - poking through a spacious yard, curling up next to Aleman to watch TV, and terrorizing and assortment of rubber toys on the back porch.

"She has a good life now," Aleman said.

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