At first, we put her on antibiotics, in case it was just the start of an abscess. Perhaps she stepped on a sharp object and it punctured her foot. The bacteria from the object gets seeded beneath the skin with a puncture. The wound itself is usually small and heals up quickly. The bacteria grow beneath the healed skin and the body starts to fight it off. This reaction creates an abscess, which is quite literally a pocket full of pus waiting to rupture through the skin. Not pretty, and likely not fun to have.
After the course of antibiotics was completed, the mass went down in size but was now firm, and still causing discomfort. I thought it might be an interdigital cyst or perhaps a foreign body, so I decided it would be best to investigate the area surgically. Sometimes an animal steps on an object that causes a puncture, a piece of that object stays inside the animal and rallies a constant reaction from the body that is fighting off that object. The object is not recognized as natural within the body which stimulates the immune system to fight it. The simple treatment is to remove the object causing the reaction.
We anesthetized Maizie, and surgically prepared her foot. Scrub and clean, scrub and clean. As I made the incision, I could feel the object firm beneath the scalpel blade. As it starts to become visible through the incision, I can see that the object is metallic.
We have no real history on Maizie. A friend was at an animal shelter near her house, and asked if I could take Maizie in because she was at risk for euthanasia, due to the high population of animals in the shelter at that time. We took one look at Maizie's photograph online, and agreed to take her. She was beautiful. Maizie had puppies while at the shelter, but her puppies had all found homes, as she continued to sit in the cage waiting for her family. Part of the reason she continue to wait is that many dogs while nursing and weaning their puppies drop their haircoat to the point of going bald. Maizie is one of those lucky dogs. Who wants to adopt a naked dog?
At the time of the surgery, her haircoat is normal and flourishing. The result of good nutrition, and the good love of a family. We can no longer refer to her as "Baldy".
I grab a hemostat to grasp the object through the incision. The smaller I can make the incision, the faster this girl will heal. I am expecting a piece of nail, barbed wire, something of that nature to be at the end of my hemostat when I finally succeed in removing the foreign body. As I pulled it out, I all but "guffawed" at the luck that this dog really must have.
Held tightly between the tips of my hemostats, sat a bullet. Not a pellet, or a BB. An actual bullet. I of course relay my shock to my assistants by shouting, "You aren't going to believe what I just found!" They both come running.
"What is it?" "I think it's a bullet." "Really?!" "Pretty sure."
We called the local police officer, who later confirmed that the bullet was a 22 caliber.
I called the adopted guardian, to reveal the nature of the limping. In her shock, she revealed that there were more lumps on her front left leg and shoulder that were small and hard.
Before Maizie woke up, I went to her front left leg, and removed two more foreign bodies. These were two small pellets.
The revelation? This dog has been shot at a minimum of two times. TWO TIMES! One of those times it was with a 22 caliber bullet! They were not just trying to scare her away with that!
The idea of shooting at a dog or cat to me is repulsive. I have never lived in a rural community until I moved here...and would not have believed that it is allowed. But it is. And with the lack of humane resources for many rural counties, I can see why people feel the need to resort to such inhumane action.
It is so important for people to put collars and tags on their dogs and cats to protect them visually, especially in rural settings. In this circumstance, a microchip, while still very important, is not enough.
In Iowa, you can shoot a dog on your property if it is your dog, or if it has no visible signs of ID or in self defense of yourself or your flock/herd.
ID tags and microchips will not protect them from all harm, but being certain that you do all that you can to protect them speaks volumes. You cannot be with them at all times. You cannot easily prevent bad things from happening. Knowing that you did all that you can do to protect them, may be your only point of relief if and when bad things do happen.
Maizie may have been dumped out in the country by an uncaring owner, or an owner who was turned away from overly burdened shelters, or by a desperate owner who had no shelter to turn to for help. She may have been stolen then dumped or stolen then ran off. She may have simply run off and was not found by her owner. We will never know the true circumstances. If her previous owner had known that would happen to their dog, I would hope that they would have made a different choice.
To know that she was shot at twice during her struggle for survival is heartbreaking. But it was heartwarming to see her go home a second time with her new family.
I will have to remember to use the term "vaccines" when it is time for Maizie to get her booster "shots"!
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