Road to recovery: how Lethbridge vets saved neglected dogs

On a farm outside of Milk River malnutrition, parasite infestation and freezing temperatures were the norm for over 200 dogs.

After the SPCA swooped in and seized the canines, four of them landed in front of Dr. Jacob Adserballe and staff at the Family Pet Hospital.

“As far as I know we got the four worst of the dogs from there,” said Adserballe. “That’s what the officer reported when he brought them in.”

The team worked quickly, removing masses of hair to reveal cuts, bruises, and in one case, a broken bone. IVs were hooked up, antibiotics given and hydration levels were monitored. Healing an animal after such a long period of neglect is a delicate procedure.

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“You kind of go easy and slow in the beginning, then once you see they’re keeping things down and responding, then you can bump up the treatment and the feeding.”

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While all the dogs are expected to make a full physical recovery, there’s no telling at this point how much damage has been done psychologically. Much like humans can suffer from PTSD, animals can suffer from the consequences of traumatic events later in life.

“First year, year and a half, dogs and cats are very impressionable. So that’s probably the worst time if they are receiving any time of long term neglect.”

Though physically they may be healthy, very human issues like anxiety and fear can lead to inappropriate urination problems, and more commonly, aggression.

“Basically they are worried, and so they’re protecting themselves. That comes out as aggression.”

Dr. Adserballe is confident the dogs will fully heal physically, and is optimistic that with a loving home and patience, the liberated animals will be able to lead normal healthy lives as well.

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