Starving puppies rescued near Ladysmith last week are progressing well at the BC SPCA shelter in Nanaimo.
The BC SPCA rescued seven severely emaciated puppies and their badly neglected mother from a residence near Ladysmith on Feb. 27.
The German shepherd-cross dogs, who were surrendered into SPCA custody by their owner, included the mother of the puppies, six 12-week-old puppies and one nine-month-old puppy from a previous litter, according to a news release from the SPCA.
“All of the dogs were emaciated,” said BC SPCA constable Julie Hitchcock. “The mother was shaking violently from dehydration and malnutrition and was balancing on three legs because of an injury, but she was still trying to encourage her emaciated puppies to nurse. It was heartbreaking to see her trying so hard to nurture her puppies under such hopeless circumstances.”
Hitchcock says the contents of the puppies’ stomachs included rocks and sticks that they had eaten to try to stay alive.
“The dogs had no access to food, water or shelter of any kind,” she said.
All of the dogs were rushed to Island Veterinary Hospital for immediate treatment and are receiving ongoing medical and nutritional care.
“The body conditioning scale for dogs is measured from one to nine, with one being emaciated and nine being obese,” explained Hitchcock. “At barely six pounds, these puppies didn’t even score a zero on that scale. For large-breed, 12-week-old puppies to be that thin is very scary, and I’m so thankful we found them when we did.”
One of the puppies, Huckleberry, required a partial amputation and reconstructive surgery on his foot and a full amputation of his tail due to infection caused by cuts that were left untreated.
Huckleberry had his surgery on Friday, and it went well, according to Hitchcock.
The dogs are on a re-feeding program, and Hitchcock says they’re steadily gaining weight.
“Their prognosis is good at this point,” she said. “They’re still battling some parasite issues, which is probably going to be fairly long-term because of the amount of parasites they had, but they are on medication and progressing well. Their vet is quite pleased with the progress they’ve made.”
Hitchcock discovered the puppies by accident while responding to another animal cruelty complaint in the area.
“I’m not sure how much longer these poor dogs would have lasted,” she said. “I was very concerned it was too late, but when the vet gave them fluids and some high-protein food, the response was amazing.”
The investigation continues, and charges of animal cruelty are pending in the case.
The BC SPCA would be grateful for any help in paying for the ongoing care costs of the puppies and other animals.
The dogs will need special gastro prescription food from the vet, which is more expensive than the standard shelter food, for some time, and the shelter has to pay a “fairly extensive” bill for Huckleberry’s surgery, explained Hitchcock.
“When we’re a full house already and eight dogs come in on one day, it’s real blow to the shelter’s budget,” she said. “If people are able to assist, every little bit helps.”
Donations can be made online or by calling the Nanaimo and District Branch at 250-758-8444.