A dog owner's desperate situation: What would you do?

A happy, healthy Burky at the Northern Dogs Clinic.It always seems to be a phone call that gets the ball rolling and that’s due to the distance of the communities that we work in with the Northern Dogs Project.  Last week though, the phone call came from my own area code and was about a turtle that someone had found on the road.  The turtle’s shell had been cracked but she (most likely a ‘she’ as they are the ones traversing the roads to lay their eggs in the gravel shoulders) was alive and looked relatively well from her rescuer’s perspective.  Where I live, there’s a wildlife rehabilitation place or two within an hour’s drive and so I was able to pass along contact numbers.  As I got off the phone I thought of the people who live hours, even a plane ride, from the nearest place of help.  It doesn’t mean their dog or cat isn’t important to them, it doesn’t mean they care less, but it can mean life and death if they run into a situation that requires more help than they are able to provide with the tools they have.  But then sometimes, when your back is against the wall, you don’t have any choice and either you let the animal suffer, you have it destroyed or you try.  And that is what Burky’s owners did… they decided to try.

Burky is a healthy, blue eyed, black and buff husky cross who is well looked after by his owners.  He’s fed, provided with shelter and water, and he’s considered part of the family.  We see him each year at the Northern Dogs clinic for his annual vaccines.  One winter day he was out with his family when one of those freak accidents happened.  No one is really sure how he cut himself but somehow he managed to catch his inner thigh on the sharp handle edge of something he was jumping over, slicing himself to the bone.  I don’t know about you but when I think about being in a similar situation, I picture loading the dog into the car and heading to the vet, be it during normal hours or to the after-hours emergency clinic. Imagine if you couldn’t.  All of a sudden, those options seem like a bit of a luxury and Plan C, fixing it yourself, seems really daunting.

Somehow Burky’s owners managed to hold him down while they literally sewed up his inner thigh with thread.  Unlike less sensitive areas like the shoulder or haunch, this is a super uncomfortable area to work in and Burky’s owner said that she was by no means sure he would survive even if they got that job done.  By the time I heard the story, it was at the spring Northern Dogs clinic and a few months had passed since the incident.  He sure looked in fine form to me and when I rolled him over to take a look at the scar, I couldn’t even see where the gash had been.  Burky didn’t seem to mind or show any ill effects from his accident. I’m not sure that many of us would have the nerves to do what Burky’s owners did and I’m not sure there are many dogs who would allow their owners to do it but, wow, extraordinary for sure.

--JH

What would you do? Let us know in the comments section.

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Experts

Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Hanna Lentz, Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Nancy Barr, Program Director, Animal Action Education
Program Director, Animal Action Education
Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
Program Advisor
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters