'CAUTION Rescuing animals is dangerous – far better to report strays to the local police or dog-wardens. Abandoned and feral dogs are living with fear and may easily feel threatened and attack for no obvious reason. '
Our Story edit
Almost by mistake, one Saturday evening we picked up a mangy, half-starved, badly wounded greyhound who was standing at the side of the road deep in the countryside. It was in no state to do us harm, and seemed almost pleased to see us.
We took it first to the rescue center (dog pound) but got no reply. The local police told us that it was generally unattended at weekends to reduce costs. We found the only emergency (24-hour) veterinary service available was private. We assumed the animal would simply be humanely killed with a cheap lethal injection (a procedure more commonly known as 'put-to-sleep', 'put-down', 'sacrificed' and similar euphemisms).
The duty officer examined the animal. As there was no identifying medal, ear tattoo or chip to call its owner, she suggested that, as it was very late, for a small sum we might leave it there overnight in her 'animal hospital' and see how it was in the cold hard light of Sunday morning. It was more expensive than we had bargained for, but we paid and prayed!
First steps edit
Next morning, it had been fed, its wounds treated and its passengers (parasites and insects) neutralized.
The veterinarian explained about the dangers of Refeeding syndrome and the need to carefully control the diet to recover from starvation. (This advice is also true and vitally important for seriously undernourished for humans, as well!)
We paid extra for some wound salve and a plastic bell-collar to prevent her nibbling her bandages and took her home and washed off as much mud as we could without making her bandages wet. Note that now it was a 'her' and no longer just 'it'! So we did a really stupid thing! We called her 'monster' based on her size compared to the small terrier we inherited from a colleague going through a messy divorce.
Good luck edit
By great good fortune, a neighbor had a daughter just completing her veterinary degree, and starting her 'practical' – one of the final steps before obtaining a license to practice. She took our Monster to her university professor – and, with almost every student crowded into a small operating theatre, declared that 'Monster' needed little more than time to recover.
A long road to recovery edit
Apart from analgesics, antibiotics, anti-histamines, anti-parasitics, anti-thrombosis....... Fortunately our young neighbor called every day at first, then, as the wounds healed, every two days, every four days, then whenever needed. After a week our two-year old Monster was playing. She made friends with the tiny terrier and they chased around the garden after only a couple of weeks. One month later, the wounds – initially 7 or 8 centimeters (about 3 inches) long and a centimeter (½”)wide with the bone exposed had almost healed. The muscle had regrown and the skin closed over more than three-quarters of the length. Her stamina was sufficient for longer walks, and to tolerate the vaccines required to protect from dog diseases.
Great good luck edit
Finally a success story. BUT... If the dog had not been docile, or if we had not been very experienced, long-time dog owners, who happened by chance to be semi-retired and living in a big house with an unkempt garden (that we were supposed to be taming for the owner) and if we had not had at least a little bit of spare money to finance our unintended project....
Financial cost edit
Fortunately for us our 10Kg (22lb) walking wounded skeleton turning into a 20Kg bundle of fun was used as good publicity for both the school and clinic. Imagine the cost if we had to pay ordinary commercial rates for the extensive skilled professional veterinary care that was delivered intensively over several weeks – so even we could easily have failed or been financially ruined but for our great good fortune. Well, now do you see what we mean by 'think twice before picking up a stray'?