In the heat of the day during a record-breaking heat wave, Stray Rescue received a Citizen's Service Bureau report in real time about a dog who was injured... in an area well known for dogfighting.
With no idea what to expect and no knowledge about the severity of the injuries, I rushed to the area. When I arrived, it was like looking for a needle in a hay stack. There were abandoned buildings, litter, and overgrown yards everywhere.
I was searching high and low when the resident who reported the abandoned, injured dog waved me down in the alley. I scanned a cluttered back yard for any signs of life, and then I saw him - a black, balled-up heap buried deep within an overgrowth of weeds and under a broken fence.
In temperatures over 100 degrees, it was clear that this poor dog had crawled there to die. As I got closer, I could smell infection. I saw him take a short shallow breath, and that was enough. I immediately picked up his nearly lifeless body and rushed him to the Stray Rescue Trauma Center, alerting the staff that I was bringing in a dying dog as I drove.
I've seen a lot, but even to me the severity of his injuries were totally shocking. One of his front legs was completely torn open, dead, and swarming with maggots. He had countless bite wounds on his head and around his ears, and large cuts on his other front leg. The infection could not have been more severe and life threatening. It was apparent he had been suffering for days in the sweltering heat and was used in for dogfighting - likely as a bait dog. This poor soul who had been through hell. He was in shock but, miraculously, he was alive.
As I drove back to the shelter, I kept telling him to hang in there; that he would know love, safety, and comfort if he could just hang on a little longer. He fought like hell to live, and we were going to do everything possible to make sure he survived to live a life void of fear and pain. I named him Normm.
When I arrived, the vet team was waiting. They immediately put his dangerously dehydrated body on fluids and assessed the situation. Normm needed to lose the leg immediately, and we decided to send him to VSS for an emergency amputation.
I received word later that day that they were able to successfully amputate the leg, but that was only the first step in Normm's long and uncertain road to recovery. He is still in critical condition and on morphine. Because of severe infection and swelling, the doctors are currently fighting to save his other front leg. I continue to visit him every day to show him that people aren't just cruel and hurtful. If Normm pulls through, he will be a very important spokesdog that I will take to inner-city schools to educate on the harmful, sickening effects of animal abuse and dog fighting.
St. Louis summers are notoriously rough for homeless companion animals, but with scorching temperatures, very little rain, and so much abuse and neglect, this 2012 summer is proving to be one of the worst ever. We're out on the streets seven days a week doing all we can to save those in critical condition, and we're leaving food and water for those we're unable to get.
Cases like this are so tough, but at the same time they strengthen the mission in our minds and hearts. These dogs are capable of such love and gentleness. If we don't help, who will? It's always taken an army of compassionate supporters to bolster Stray Rescue during these difficult times, and we truly couldn't do it without you.
You can make a direct impact immediately by clicking the icon below and donating to the Stracks Fund. This will ensure funding for Normm's medical care, and the emergency care that will be needed for so many others during this harsh summer.
*UPDATE: Normm was such a fighter during this critical stage. He wanted to live and, against all odds, he is on the mend. To find him dying and now having the honor to walk him and receive his kisses; his rescue and recovery is a very personal one for me. You will only know love from here on out, Normm. Welcome to a new life. My deepest thanks to all those who have already donated to his extensive medical care and have been thinking positive, healing thoughts for Normm. Here are a few pictures of Normm on his road to recovery.
Love and Woof!