Meet Prince, a male dog that was on the brink of death but is now slowly recovering.
The story of the 5-year-old canine – believed to be a poodle – began on 16 April when an unidentified breeder left it at Pet Clinic in Serangoon to be put down..
At the time the dog was a lifeless, emaciated bag of bones that weighed 2.4 kilos. A normal healthy dog his age weighs four to five kilos.
He was eventually rescued when a customer at the clinic saw Prince – who was then too weak to even walk or eat properly -- and contacted HOPE Dog Rescue, a group of volunteer animal rescuers that has been around since 2011.
The organisation helped take daily care of Prince at the clinic at Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre.
Fiona Foo, founder of HOPE, said that when she first saw Prince, it “looked like a frozen chicken from the supermarket.”
Subsequent checks by veterinarians revealed that besides being under-nourished and possibly physically abused, Prince was also suffering from a litany of health ailments: kidney and liver failure, tick fever and autoimmune problems. He was also severely anaemic and needed a blood transfusion.
Prince was taken home last Saturday by fosterer, Soh. The 41-year-old secretary is now helping to take care of the dog until it gets healthy and can be re-homed.
The first night Prince stayed at Soh’s house, it was so sick and afraid that it could not walk or move out of a mat Soh laid out for it in her kitchen.
“When I called Prince, he lifted one leg up and wanted to come out of the mat but he stopped for a second and drew his leg back in. Perhaps in the past, he had been scolded or beaten for stepping out of his area,” said Soh.
Soh said in order to help him sleep lying down, she had to wrap him up like a baby and flip him down on his bed. She suspects that Prince cannot sleep lying down because he had been kept in a tiny cage that didn’t allow him to move much, let alone sleep properly. To make matters worse, Prince has developed pressure sores on his bum from sitting down for long periods.
Previously, Prince would sleep sitting up and nod to sleep. To make it easier for him to sleep, volunteers would stack a tower of towels to support his head from nodding. “He’s very weak and not recovering fast enough because he doesn’t get enough sleep,” said Foo.
“Someone has to stay with him and the minute we move our hands, he’ll stand up in attention again because that’s how he’s been sleeping all his life,” added Soh.
But it seems the care and attention has been working. Prince is now able to walk and run slowly, and even barked on Tuesday.
The plight of abandoned dogs
HOPE says Prince is just one of thousands of dogs raised by dog breeders for commercial sale. In the past year, the volunteer outfit has rescued about 10 to 15 dogs, mostly less than a year old, who have been ill-treated at puppy farms.
“These young puppies often have rotten teeth, major skin problems but are very, very sweet because all they crave for is love and attention because no one has ever cared about them,” said Foo.
Big puppy farms usually have about 400-500 dogs while smaller ones have about 100-200. There are also home breeders who breed dogs at home and often sell the puppies online.
“When you take [the puppy] home, within the next few weeks or months, they develop pneumonia, kennel cough, skin problems and that’s when a whole lifetime of problems start,” said Foo.
“Because their parents are like that and live in terrible conditions, how much healthier do you think the puppy is?” she added.
When the “parent” dogs no longer have commercial value, breeders will either throw them away, put them down or abandon them.
“Having made tens of thousands of dollars for you, the least you could do is to find them a home,” said Foo.
“What if we never found them? They’ll just die a slow death in these puppy mills,” she added.
April 16 – Unidentified breeder sends Prince to the vet to be put down
April 18 – HOPE took over Prince from another dog owner who has been caring for Prince
April 21 – Warded at hospital at Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre
April 28 – Discharged from hospital
April 28 – Went to fosterer Karen’s home. Prince walks and runs around now but is still suffering from other illnesses.