During the past year or so I found myself drawn to watch the various television programs depicting what other Humane Societies and SPCAs encounter as cases in their jurisdictions. Unbeknownst to me at the time this was actually preparing me to commence work with our local SPCA. Many of the very tragic cases shown in Philadelphia and New York exposed the horrific neglect people can inflict upon their animals. After starting with the SPCA here in Swift Current I was very grateful to not witness any animals in such poor conditions, that is, until this week. Thursday morning as I arrived at work I made my usual check of our outside pen where some people leave their cats or dogs after hours instead of coming into the Shelter to surrender them to us. Staring back at me and being very vocal about her general displeasure about being there was a small cream and tan long haired adult dog. From a distance she appeared to need a good bath and haircut (we could not really see her eyes so she must not have been able to see much either). Although she was trying to be fierce I soon learned she was simply scared and very anxious. Eventually she allowed me to slip a leash on her to lead her into the building after much snarling and barking. When I finally got her to the kennel we would temporarily house her in until we could get her cleaned up later in the day, she reluctantly allowed me to pick her up and place her inside. I discovered that she certainly was in need of groceries and that her coat was pretty matted. However nothing prepared us for what we would discover once we started to get her cleaned up. From the base of her skull to the end of her body, she was covered in a single large mat of hair about 1 1/2 inches thick. Her legs and feet were not spared either. Each of her little legs looked to be a minimum of 2 inches in diameter and her little feet slightly larger. Lifting her paws to check her nails and pads we saw nails that were severely overgrown (slightly over an inch long) and the pads had disappeared beneath the mats encasing them. The fur between and around her toes had encased the soles of her feet because it had grown so long and had not been groomed or trimmed. Upon more thoroughly checking her body condition we were horrified to learn that she was not just thin, but severely emaciated. The horribly matted fur encased her body and was pulling at her delicate skin. As we started to carefully use scissors to snip her matted coat from her body, more and more of her skeleton was revealed under her very thin skin. She had no remaining fat and very little muscle. As we worked on her through the afternoon I am sure that she must have experienced some discomfort (like combing a young child’s curly hair that has not been tended to for a day) but she remained quiet without any attempts to bite us or even growl. The matted remnants of what must have once been a beautiful long silky coat were enough to fill two grocery shopping bags. The whole process with two staff members took about 6 1/2 hours from the start by removing her dirty matted coat to finishing by giving her a gentle massage during a warm bath.
When I first gently placed her into her kennel early in the morning she took to her food very quickly and had no troubles eating or drinking, so it seems that if her previous owners had actually placed food out for her she would have very likely not been so severely emaciated. It did not take long to decide that until she is well on the road to recovery from the severe neglect that she experienced, I will foster her at my home and take her to work with me the days I am scheduled. She had several small feedings on Thursday, always looking for more immediately after swallowing the last morsel from her bowl. She slept with me in my bed with my dog and kitten and settled in fairly quickly. However we were up several times during the night as she felt it necessary to make these unusual sounds similar to short purring sounds. It seems she needed to go out a couple of times and the other times she just needed some attention. During the evening we decided to name her “Ming” which can be translated as brilliant light or alternatively as fate or destiny. Her obvious will to survive must have burned as strongly as a brilliant light with a new fate now set forth before her. Although I know that these photos are very disturbing I have chosen to include them so that we might be able to locate her previous owners. If anyone in the community might know who this little dog belonged to please let us know. We will not reveal who informed us of the owner’s identity but please consider what she has suffered. We only hope that her previous owners have no other animals under their care.