If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. Mark Twain

Monday, July 12, 2010

Animals at Risk


In the past two weeks, we have seen two horrific accidents involving street dogs. We didn’t witness the accidents, but the sight of Dawn with part of her leg sliced off and Tiger, with his horrific injuries, have made us think how careless humans put animals at risk. As if life isn’t tough enough for them, living on the streets with no food nor shelter, these poor street dogs have had to endure weeks of pain. What if workers had not informed us of the dogs’ plight? What if we were there at a different time from the dogs? Then we would never have seen them nor have been able to offer help and they would have gone on suffering.

Dawn’s daughter went home on Friday, having rested a night at the Vet after being sterilized. After we returned her, while driving off to have dinner, we saw a skinny brown dog lying by the side of the road. We pulled over to check if he was perhaps injured . . . .dead . . . We whistled as we approached, not wanting to shock the dog and risk being bitten or turned upon. There was no movement from the dog but when I glanced at it’s chest, I saw that there was breathing. We called him a few more times and he got up slowly. As he walked away, the sight of his bleeding scrotum made my knees weak and I felt a sense of nausea and sadness overcome me.  His scrotum was terribly swollen and it was almost torn off! His hind legs wobbled as if his joints were loose and he walked slowly from his pain.

Eating some canned food

Bleeding at the anus and scrotum

We gave him some canned food while a friend went in to ask the workers if this was their dog. A Chinese man came out and told us that it was not their dog although about three years ago, the dog had wandered into his factory and made it his home. The Chinese man also mentioned this was the third time that this dog had been hit by a vehicle – but this was the most serious accident of all. We asked if we could take the dog to the Vet immediately, half expecting him to scold us, as did Dawn’s lady boss but instead he said he would ask his workers to help us catch the dog and put him in the carrier for us. He even took out his wallet and offered $50 for the medical bill. Looking at the extent of the injuries, we knew that the vet bills could possibly exceed a thousand dollars but his kindness and generosity was genuine and we accepted his $50 contribution to the bill. He told us the dog’s name was Tiger. We did inform him that should the Vet advise us to put the dog down, we would, and he was agreeable to that. We didnt want to be blamed for not returning the dog if he could not be saved.

We took Tiger to Mt Pleasant Animal Medical Centre’s newly opened branch at Block 113, Bukit Merah View and he was quiet the entire journey. When we arrived at the clinic, he was examined by Dr Ang, who was amazed at how sweet and gentle Tiger was. Surely his name did not suit him! Tiger was cooperative and allowed us to touch and examine him. Often he would look at us with such pleading eyes, telling of his weeks of pain and sorrow.

Examined by Dr Ang

His scrotum was almost torn off

 Sadness in his eyes

Dr Ang suspected that he could have been hit by a speeding car. His scrotum was still bleeding although she felt that the accident had taken place at least three weeks ago! He had lost a lot of blood. It was almost closing time so we put him in the cage to rest, and Dr Ang would check on him the following morning.

The sweetest darling, not wanting us to leave him

He was given some canned food, which he gulped in one mouthful and then he lay down slowly on his side. The pain and sadness in his eyes were obvious. We knew that despite the pain, he would have a good night’s rest, not having to worry about being attacked or picked on by dogs or workers. He would be alright.

Finally, a good rest

The following morning (Saturday), Dr Ang did an x-ray on Tiger and found that he did indeed have fractured hips, possibly when he was hit by the car / lorry but because the accident took place some three weeks back, the hip bones were already slowly fusing back together. She commented that the pain he has had to endure would have been quite unbearable. It was decided that surgery on his hip was not necessary and thus, only the open wounds on his scrotum and anus would be treated. Surgery on Tiger lasted two hours and apart from having fractured hips, it was found that he had internal bleeding, which was expected from being hit, was anemic, and had LOTS of tape worms in him.

Fractured hip bones

(Tapeworms are parasites that attach themselves to dogs' intestines. They are flat and segmented, white in colour and can grow up to 20cm long. Dogs acquire tapeworms by chewing or biting at an itchy area on its skin. They may swallow a flea that contains cysticercoids which once inside the dogs' intestine, will develop into a tapeworm. The tapeworm will then attach itself to the dogs' intestine and feed on the nutrients.)

Tiger whined a lot when he awoke from surgery, constantly wanting someone to pat and love him. Dr Ang and the nurses were extremely caring and gave him lots of extra attention and doggie treats. They even took him outside for slow, short walks. It must have been the first time he experienced love.

The day after surgery; his wound is healing well

Looking slightly more hopeful!

We visited him on Sunday and he wagged his tail when he saw us. There was some life and hope in his eyes. As it was near closing time and there were no other patients in the clinic, we were allowed to let him out of his cage to walk about. He jumped out of his cage as if he had a new lease of life and walked around the room. Tiger has a really sweet temperament and he walked happily around the room, sniffing the cages, shelves, bins etc and we could see he was happy. He had lots of treats again!

His wound is rather huge as his entire scrotum had to be removed. He is still on pain killers but Dr Ang says his wound is healing extremely well. In our volunteer work, we are often amazed at how resilient animals are, their tolerance of pain, their loyalty and their strong will to survive. We often pray for miracles when we rescue animals and we have been truly blessed because most times, the animals can be saved. His wound is still raw but Tiger is doing well and should recover fully.

Tiger is a rather small sized dog. Seen here relaxing in the clinic. Dr Ang estimates him to be about 4 yrs old.

He will be staying at the clinic till possibly Tuesday or Wednesday, when his wound has dried up and healed entirely as where he lives is a forklift company and it is dirty and grimy. We don’t want his wound infected and besides, he needs to be on medication for a few more days.

Waiting for his treats!

Dr Ang also mentioned that because of the tapeworms in him, he is undernourished and for the next two weeks, needs lots of good, nutritious food to beef him up. This sounds like we’ll be going to the industrial estates more often than we would like to!

Coincidentally, as we were leaving the clinic after our visit, a worker from Tiger’s factory called to ask how he was doing and if he could be saved. In all these years, this was the first time we have ever had a worker call us to show concern over a dog and we were extremely touched that in their own way, they did seem to care for him.

For the next few days, we will continue to visit Tiger with nutritious food, to fatten him up. We are happy that we were able to help him and to alleviate his pain and suffering. The eyes are windows to the soul. Look at Tiger’s eyes and tell us if you see happiness and hope!

A song to share with all our readers. For all drivers who feel the need to speed, slow down. Animals have feelings too.

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"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."- Unknown