Rufus, the dog brought to Island Veterinary Services with extensive burn wounds last week, may have been suffering longer than initially reported. Dr. Ioanna Popescu, who treated Rufus, said Tuesday that she believes the animal’s owner waited at least a week before bringing him in for care.

The dog’s owner brought him in to the Cayman Islands Humane Society on Tuesday, Aug. 8, and they said the animal’s injury occurred on Friday, Aug. 4. But Dr. Popescu, who took care of the dog’s burns and handed him over to a foster owner for further treatment, believes that cannot be true.

“I can’t say if the dog was maliciously burned. It’s impossible for me to say that,” she said. “But what concerns me is that whoever supervised the animal waited longer than a week to bring it for care.

“They left the dog with that rotting wound on his back for so long before doing something.”

The dog owner alleged that Rufus had been “bitten” when he was surrendered to the Humane Society, and the animal’s wounds had progressed to an alarming extent by the time he reached the vet.

“The wound was pretty big,” said Dr. Popescu of the dog’s injuries. “It extended from the middle of his back all the way to the neck, and it had some patches on the head as well. It was very infected.”

Dr. Popescu characterized Rufus as “pretty skinny” and “underweight,” and she said she couldn’t be certain how the wounds occurred. The Department of Agriculture, which is conducting an investigation, believes the wounds may have come from a chemical attempt to control external parasites.

That is certainly a possible cause of the injury, said Dr. Popescu, and if true, it would indicate that the dog-owner meant well but was “completely misguided.” This wound, because it encompasses much of the dog’s body, is harder to diagnose than the typical ailment the vet sees on a daily basis.

“On this dog, it’s very hard to say what caused it,” she said. “We’re assuming it was a burn wound from the position on the body and the shape of it. It almost looks like it was a big splatter in the middle and some smaller patches extended on the outside. That could be consistent with a burn wound. It could also be deriving from an initial wound that got infected or it could also be from a chemical wound.”

This is the second dog with burn injuries that the Humane Society has brought to Island Vets in the last three months. The last dog, Dora, has recovered from her injuries and is currently awaiting adoption to a new permanent home. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service made an arrest in Dora’s case but no charges have been filed, and the police are allowing the Department of Agriculture to lead the investigation into Rufus.

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