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 5, 2010

The Harsh Reality

Updates (7 July 2010)

Dawn is ready to be discharged and to return home to the factory where all her puppies are anxiously awaiting her return. Her wounds have dried up and healed nicely and we'll send her home this evening. Volunteers will check on her regularly and ensure she is fine. Thank you everyone for your contributions, care, concern and encouragement. Without the support of all Dawn's Fairy Dog-Mothers, we will not be able to continue with the work we do, nor help more of Dawn's fellow strays. There are so many more from where she comes from. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You everyone.

As always, on my stray feeding rounds, I sometimes get a crowd of Indian workers hovering around, some amused, some curious; watching me dish out food from my mobile kitchen (my car boot). I am careful not to go to poorly lit or deserted areas when I am alone. Sometimes the workers who speak English will approach me and ask, “Dog eat?” I just nod or say “yes” for fear of striking up a conversation and getting myself into any unnecessary trouble.

Industrial areas at late night sure isn’t a place for a lady but when I know the stray dogs line the streets anticipating my presence and perhaps getting their only meal of the week, I do it. Plus the fact that I need to go into the industrial sites to look for puppies and female dogs for sterilization, as well as dogs who have been injured. For minor injuries such as small dog bites, infections etc – I get medications and antibiotics to put into the food for the dogs and I monitor them over the next few days. These dogs are hardy creatures and very often they recover and their wounds dry up in no time. Only if it gets worse, do I catch them and take them to the vet; but this option costs a lot more so I prefer medicating them in the industrial estates.

Over the years, I have made many friends, both with the strays in the industrial estates, as well as the workers. Workers that I have observed to care for the dogs, I provide them with big bags of kibbles on a regular basis and many of them have my mobile number; they call me when the strays in their compound are in an accident, unwell or due for sterilization; sometimes these strays accidentally swallow poison and I need to rush them to the vet. I care for these strays like I do for my own dogs. Feeding and sterilizing them so they don't reproduce are the best I can do for them since I can't take each and every puppy or dog home. When I feed the strays, I commonly ask the workers in the factories, “baby have? Mommy have?” and they will bring me in to see if there are any puppies or female dogs for sterilization.

Last Wednesday night while I was on my usual feeding rounds, I asked a worker from India, my usual question, “baby have? Mommy have?” and his answer was “many many baby. Mommy accident no leg.” Concerned I immediately took my torch light and asked him to show me the dogs. I saw four puppies, about four months old with their mommy, deep inside the factory compounds. Mommy had half her right hind leg missing and I could smell her rotting flesh from a distance.

Injured hind leg. (Picture taken at the factory)

Mommy was not too friendly with me; perhaps because she was in pain and also protecting her puppies. I asked the worker what happened and he told me that a car had crushed her hind leg almost a month ago, and when the accident happened, her leg broke and another stray dog came and took her broken leg and ran off with it. I tell myself, that stray ran off with the broken leg because it was food. That’s how hungry these strays often are. In all my years of feeding, sterilizing and rescuing strays, I often feel I have seen it all but some days, the pain and sadness gets to me. . . . .Anyhow, I told the workers I would come back the following night with a pet carrier and I asked if he would help me catch the injured dog as she was rather aggressive with me, but friendly to the workers. He agreed to help and gave me his mobile number.

A closer look at her mangled hind leg, before rescue.

The following night, together with two other volunteers, we went to the factory and telephoned the worker to have him meet us at the front gate of the factory. When he came out, he told us that their boss said we could not take the dog to the vet, and that the dog was recovering. We were upset with his boss’ comment and figured we would wait till the boss left for the day before we went in to catch the dog; but then again, it was 7pm and the vet would close at 8pm. With peak traffic, we would never make it before closing time and where would we house her for the night if we had to wait till the next day? So I asked him if I could speak with his boss. He agreed and brought me into the compounds. The boss was a lady in her 40s and she was wiping her Merc when I approached. I politely thanked her for letting me enter her factory grounds and offered to take the dog to the vet, explaining there were maggots, the dog’s leg was rotting and if she could imagine the pain the dog was enduring. I promised to return the dog to her in a few days time after surgery. She refused to let me take the dog, threatening that the dog would bite me if I attempted to help it and insisting that the leg was already recovering. I had to negotiate with her for almost 15 minutes and after assuring her that she would not need to pay a single cent, she finally relented.

A Thai and an Indian worker helped us put the injured dog into the pet carrier and we rushed to Mt Pleasant (Sunset Way) before they closed. All the way to the vet, the dog was barking to be released and she was getting agitated. After years of rescue work, I could identify with that familiar smell of rotting flesh and a maggot infested wound.

When we arrived at the vet, she growled from inside the carrier and was extremely aggressive. The vet on night duty, Dr Jane Teo, suggested letting the injured dog rest for the night and take a look at her injury the next day in the hope that she would be less aggressive.

The following evening, Dr LesleyTeo managed to sedate the injured dog and do an x-ray on her. Her right hind leg could not be saved and had to be amputated at the hip. (We have photographs of the surgery but the pics are too gruesome to be posted for public viewing). We also asked Dr Teo to sterilize her during the surgical procedure. It was then that we found out she was in the early stages of pregnancy and had seven puppies. The puppies were aborted. Cruel to abort, you say? Would it be a better option to abort before they came into this awful world as a stray? Or would it be better to keep the puppies and let them grow up, live on the streets for the next ten years, getting into bad fights for food, going for days on end with no food, being attacked by other dogs, no love, no shelter, getting hit by speeding cars and heavy vehicles, then dying a slow painful death in a dirty filthy construction site, without anyone even noticing they were gone? You decide.

 Before surgery, on the operating table. The lower part of her limb is missing.

When the injured dog awoke from sedation after surgery, she cried. I can still hear her cry as I write this. The pain and the sadness in her cry is something that will stay with me for a long time. The loss of a limb; the loss of her puppies. Readers who have never seen strays living on the streets, fighting, mating; would never imagine what these poor dogs go through. What this poor mommy dog went through was something we could never imagine. The pain of being hit by a speeding car, the pain of her bone snapping into two, the pain of living with that broken bleeding leg for almost a month before she received help, and the pain of a male dog mating with her, while she was so badly injured. I feel nauseous as I write this. The unimaginable pain. The sad, sorry life of a stray . . . . and what’s sadder; there are MANY more such cases, and not all are as fortunate to receive help. Many die on the streets, alone and in pain, never ever experiencing love nor a human touch. I have seen carcasses of puppies . . . . dogs . . . I have photographs of these, to remind me of my promise to these strays, to sterilize them and to provide them with food and medical help, within my means.

Recovering, the day after surgery.

We named her Dawn. We hope this is a new beginning for her. It may not seem like a very bright beginning to some; handicapped, three legged, being picked on when she returns to the streets, and having to now learn to cope with her handicap; but she has been sterilized and she will no longer be “gang raped”, nor will she ever produce unwanted puppies on the streets and what’s more, we know she is a survivor. The fact that she went through so much physical pain and survived tells you she is one tough mama!

Dawn is still recovering at Mt Pleasant Animal Clinic and will be there till perhaps Wednesday night. We visit her daily with home cooked food but we have to be careful when we put the food into her cage, as she is still extremely fierce and unpredictable. We check on her wounds daily and as soon as both her amputation and sterilization wounds dry up and heal completely, we will release her back to the streets, to be with her puppies. Cruel to send her back to the harsh realities of life as a stray, with just three legs? Well, we are open to your suggestions and keeping her in a commercial boarding kennel for the rest of her life is NOT an option; realistically, it is not money well spent either. The $300 a month spent on boarding for the rest of her life can be used to sterilize and help many other strays.

Dr Teo was concerned that Dawn may not be able to survive when she goes back to the industrial sites but we know she is a survivor and we know she will survive. In the area where she lives, she is the Alpha dog and we assure you, despite her handicap, she will still be the Alpha dog. She needs to be . . . to survive the way she has.

A new beginning for Dawn. Seen here eating her pork knuckles.

We know that Dawn will be happy to go back to her puppies who are probably missing her and waiting anxiously for mommy's return. Soon they will all be reunited and with the entire family being sterilized over the next few weeks, we know that despite the odds against them, we have done the best we can to help and we will continue to monitor Dawn's well-being, as well as providing food to the entire family on a regular basis. The workers love them and we know they will care for them.

Should you wish to help with her medical bills, please do send us an email to offer your kind help. Her estimated bill to date is $1100. Apart from the vet bills for Dawn, when we send her “home”, we will also be taking her four puppies to be sterilized; two at a time, over the next two weeks.

Our heartfelt thanks for your generosity and kindness.

Listen to a song by Ray Charles, All I Ever Need is You - dedicated to everyone who makes a difference in the lives of these courageous strays, rain or shine.

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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