What could have been a tragedy is heading for a happy ending after a concerted dog rescue effort in West Bay.
The dog, since named Ranger, was spotted wandering around the district with a collar growing into his neck. Although residents had tried to approach the dog, it was quite shy and would not allow anyone to get too close, although it would come up and eat food left out for it.
According to Heather Haines, who coordinated the effort, she was contacted by Donvert Kelly about a stray white dog that had been hanging around.
“For months the neighbours fed him and tried everything to gain his confidence, all to no avail,” said Ms Haines.
The Department of Agriculture put out a trap to try and capture the dog but did not meet with success.
“In spite of enticing dog food and cat food as bait in the trap, the dog still eluded the trap for over five weeks. Finally, I contacted the DoA for advice and assistance,” said Ms Haines.
After consulting Dr. Kanyuira Gikonyo at the Department of Agriculture, Ms Haines was referred to Dr. Lori Gaskins at St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine.
“I went to the property to evaluate the dog and realised that we would be unable to capture him without sedation. I discussed this with Dr. Gikonyo and he agreed and provided the necessary medications,” said Ms Gaskins.
Veterinary students helped
In order to keep the situation as controlled as possible, Ms Gaskins also enlisted the help of students from the St. Matthew’s Behaviour Club to help monitor the situation and keep the dog from running off and eluding the team during the capture.
According to Ms Haines, the capture attempt itself was quite an intricate affair.
“It took three separate cat food baits laced with sedative and after one hour and 45 minutes, the dog was finally sedated enough to allow Dr. Gikonyo to inject him via a pole syringe with a medication that finally knocked him out,” she said.
However, during the process Mr. Kelly’sown dog ingested one of the baits intended for Ranger.
“It later spent many hours sleepy and unable to bark, wag his tail or stand up,” said Ms Haines.
Once Ranger was sedated, Ms Gaskins removed the collar and placed the dog in a crate for transport to Island Veterinary Services, where it was to receive treatment.
Dr. Brenda Bush was responsible for treating Ranger once he arrived at the veterinary clinic.
“Ranger came in with a 360 degree wound around his neck from his collar being ingrown and embedded for so long. The tissue was actually growing in around the collar and under the collar it had started dissecting down toward the muscle tissue and the vital anatomy of his neck,” she said.
The wound required intensive treatment, with antibiotics and pain medication forming an important part of the treatment regime, along with hydrotherapy twice a day.
“The thing with this particular wound is you can’t just sew it shut or do a surgery that it’s just repaired all at once. Because it is pressure necrosis
, you actually have to build back up the tissue and that takes a long time,” said Ms Bush.
Yet physical scars are not the only issues faced by dogs that have suffered collar trauma, according to Ms Gaskins.
“Behaviourally, the dog may be hesitant to have anything around the neck, and may back away or snarl or bite if someone tries to place a collar or leash on it or touches the dog’s neck, even after the neck is healed. Just as there are treatments for the medical conditions, there are also treatments for the behaviour condition,” she said.
In Ranger’s case he has made a miraculous recovery, and not only has the wound healed up well, but he is also allowing the staff at the veterinarian to put a leash on him.
Fortunately for Ranger, it did not take long for him to find a home, as he was adopted by an employee at Island Veterinary Services, Melanie Moore.
“I just fell for him – he was very scared and I just wanted to show him that it’s OK. I wanted to give him a loving family and make sure that he is OK when he is around people. I just wanted to be there for him and show him that he will not have to go back out there on the streets and have to starve,” she said.
Ms Moore, who has been working with Island Veterinary Services for two years, said Ranger will be her sixth dog, with all the other dogs also being rescues or adoptions.
“He’s a great new addition to the family, so I’m very pleased,” she said.
Common sign of neglect
According to Ms Bush, although Ranger’s case had a happy ending, collar trauma is an all to common occurrence and does not always end well for the animals involved.
“Unfortunately the collar wound is one of the more common signs of neglect that we see,” she said.
Quite often a puppy will be given a new collar, but as it grows and interest in the puppy wanes, the collar will not be adjusted or replaced. The damage is often not easily visible as it can be hidden under the animal’s fur.
“The puppy’s in the back yard, and then all of a sudden the family notices the puppy smells bad and goes and has a look and the collar is actually growing into the neck. Like growing children, when you put shoes on their feet, you have to change that size,” said Ms Bush.
“Credit to a lot of people, they will seek immediate medical attention for their dog which is the right thing to do when they see that happen.”
Ms Bush sees Ranger’s case as an example of what can happen when a community works together.
“It is almost a community heroic story of actually catching him and getting him the medical attention he needed and getting him adopted,” she said.
Promote animal welfare
“We all should be involved in animal welfare, we all should be very outspoken about cruelty and neglect, and we all should be out there to try to set a good example.”
Even though Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts has offered
to sponsor Ranger’s neuter, vaccine and deworming, Ranger’s treatment costs have added up over the weeks he has been at the vet, so Island Veterinary Services is accepting donations to help cover the treatment.
“Bills do accrue and Heather will stand behind that, but she sure would appreciate help,” said Ms Bush.