Posted: 3:21 am Monday, March 6th, 2017
By Ann Kelly
“Mutt Madness” is coming up this Saturday as I return to Highlander Park with the Suncoast Animal League for a full day of very furry fun. All this week I’ll be introducing you to some of the very special rescues that will be there. This year has once again brought rescue stories that just break your heart. But thanks to Executive Director Rick Chaboudy and an incredible group of volunteers and supporters it also brings great success stories of those same rescues. The most recent was a group of Lhasa Apso’s and no one can tell their story of being rescued from a breeder. They didn’t even resemble dogs at first glance. Read below how the rescue went down, and take a look at my visit with the five at last week’s fund raiser.
The Five Lhasa’s: Medical Issues by Rick Chaboudy
It was 12:30am by the time the five Lhasa Apso’s were loaded into my vehicle at Critter Mama Rescue in Ruskin. The smell immediately started taking ownership of my SUV. It was a chilly and damp night, but I rolled down the windows and cranked up the air conditioning as I headed west towards Pinellas County. I was pretty sure I couldn’t air the stink out of my vehicle, but I gave it a try anyway. I failed. Miserably.
When I arrived an hour later at Clearwater Beach, I was greeted by Suncoast Animal League volunteers Clint (owner of Island Dog Outfitters) Lindsey and Diana. They opened the back hatch of my SUV to retrieve the dogs and were blasted in the face by the powerful odor that was like a Joe Frazier left hook.
One by one, each Lhasa Apso was hoisted onto the grooming table. Each time, Clint would step back, sigh and say, “Give me a minute. I have to figure out where to start.” Each new dog stunned us more than the previous one. Each one made us angrier and more sick to our stomachs. We stood staring in disbelief every time we witnessed the 3 to 4 inch twisted, curved and misshaped nails that maneuvered their way through the “boxing glove” of mats that contained each paw. It wasn’t easy seeing all this misery, but we focused on the outcome, which was making them feel better.
Six and a half hours later, we finally finished. We bagged up the huge chunks and clumps of filthy mats into three tightly sealed, heavy duty trash bags and loaded the five Lhasas into my SUV once again. It was quickly evident that the bathing aspect of our long night did little to nothing to reduce the awful smell of the dogs. Or, maybe at that point, it was me??!! I arrived back at Suncoast Animal League around 8:30am and the first volunteer dog care shift of the day was well under way. The dog walkers stopped their routine to help unload the newcomers and say “hello” to their new challenges. Some choked at the odor and others shed tears as they watched the Lhasas attempt to walk. They fed them and were amazed at their undaunted appetites after all they had been through. The Lhasas were then tucked into their new beds so they could catch a quick nap before they headed off to the vet’s office. At Enterprise Road Animal Hospital, the dogs were greeted with the now standard, “What’s that smell??!!” They spent the day at the hospital where each one was examined individually. As we suspected, the news was not good. The dogs were older than originally thought. Collectively, they will most likely have all their teeth pulled. They have ear infections, one so severe that the ear showed signs of “rotting.” They have skin infections, feet irritations, open sores, luxated patellas and other orthopedic problems.
Several showed signs of over breeding. Because of the removal of the heavy “cast like” matting on their legs and the 1-1.5 lb. “boxing gloves” weighing down their feet, they have to learn to walk again. Now that the matting has been removed from their feet, they lift their feet unusually high in the air (like goose stepping) and have trouble placing their feet accurately on the ground.
The most disturbing medical diagnosis of all concerns their eyes. Dr. Pola’s examination concluded that the dogs, every single one, are almost completely blind. Some may see shapes and have “light” awareness. One has a hole in her cornea because of infection. All this was additionally confirmed by an optometrist who is a volunteer with us and happened to stop by our shelter yesterday.
As deflating as all this news has been, we have absorbed it fully and are ready to move forward in our quest to give each of them new, happy lives. We are also gathering information on the dogs’ former owner in order to pursue animal cruelty charges. We know that one dog was purchased from a St Petersburg pet store in 2004 for $949.00. She was bred numerous times as was one of her daughters.
After being so severely neglected for so long, it’s amazing to see the thousands of people who care about these five dogs and are following their story. Maybe they will never see that because of the condition of their eyes, but they sure can feel it because their hearts work fine. Thank you for caring.
And we do care very much Rick. They have names and will be at Mutt Madness and we invite you to come by and support the work of the Suncoast Animal League. And if you’re not able to be there in person, please consider making a donation to help cover the medical expenses. Please visit the Suncoast Animal League PayPal account on their website at www.SuncoastAnimalLeague.org or to their mailing address:
1030 Pennsylvania Ave.
Palm Harbor, FL 34683