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Neglected Dog Makes an Unbelievable Recovery

Posted March 24, 2014 in A Vet's Life

For years I have been working with a number of rescue groups in Southern California—not an easy task.  It’s very hard to say “NO,” to these groups who have only the noblest of intentions and the biggest of hearts; I, and my employees, are also real “softies.” I am, however, often forced to be practical when dealing with these groups, their rescued pets, and especially their enormous hearts. Though difficult, I often find myself trying to teach or advise them of the virtues of, as we like to call it, the “hard health” mentality. Simplified, this means that, though difficult, we need to consider what might benefit the masses. 

Saving one vs. saving more
Given the hundreds, even thousands, of very healthy, adoptable dogs overcrowding our shelters: it may not be in the rescue group’s best interest to spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on one very needy animal whose chances of survival are very slim. I often find myself asking the rescue group personnel: “Do you have any idea how many healthy pets you could pull out of a shelter TODAY with the money you are about to spend on an animal with a poor chance of survival who will be very difficult to place into a home?” I know it’s tough, but we often need to face the facts and look at the “big picture.”

One dog’s will to survive
Well, last week I broke my own rule—initially not by choice, but by directive, and in the process I learned an important lesson about the “will to survive” from my new friend, Henry.

Henry, a roughly 4-year-old male American Eskimo dog, was found by a good Samaritan meandering in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. When the woman approached Henry to help him, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Henry’s neck was completely ripped open—exposing layers of black, necrotic muscle and tissue; dried, necrotic, badly bruised skin; and multiple puncture wounds adjacent to and surrounding the gaping flesh. She coaxed Henry to her car, and drove him to the nearest animal shelter.

[Editors Note: Photos of Henry’s injuries and recovery are available. Be aware that these images are extremely graphic: Henry’s presentation and recovery photos]

One of the shelter volunteers called one of the local rescue groups to see if there would be any interest in trying to save Henry. Henry’s story, and, of course pictures,

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Jeff has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a licensed veterinarian as well as a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.

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The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.