Vancouver Island dog honoured with BC SPCA Animal Courage Award
A Vancouver Island dog who courageously fought to keep her puppies alive against overwhelming odds was honoured with the BC SPCA’s Animal Courage Award at the society’s annual awards ceremony on June 1 in Vancouver. The award honours an animal who has shown exceptional courage and resilience in the face of suffering.
On February 27th, SPCA Constable Julie Hitchcock had just finished responding to an animal cruelty complaint in Ladysmith when she noticed an emaciated German shepherd-cross dog entering a nearby yard. Following her, she discovered the sickly dog attempting to nurse six 12-week-old puppies who were also suffering from severe starvation. The mother was also trying to care for a malnourished nine-month-old puppy from a previous litter. According to Constable Hitchcock the mother, Molly, was shaking violently from dehydration, malnutrition and was balancing on three legs because of an injury, but she was still desperately trying to encourage her emaciated puppies to eat.
The dogs had no access to food, water or shelter of any kind and were living in an area strewn with broken glass and other dangerous objects.
Constable Hitchcock managed to convince the owner of the animals to voluntarily surrender the dogs and immediately rushed Molly and her seven puppies to a veterinarian where they were given fluids and graduated amounts of high-protein food. “X-rays taken upon arrival showed that the puppies’ stomach contents consisted primarily of rocks and sticks that they had eaten to try to stay alive,” said Craig Daniell, chief executive officer of the BC SPCA. “Even more shocking was their body weight. The body conditioning scale for dogs is measured from one to nine, with one being emaciated and nine being obese. At barely six pounds, these 12-week-old puppies didn’t even score a zero on that scale. It is unlikely they would have survived much longer had Constable Hitchcock not happened upon them that day.” One of the puppies also required a partial amputation and reconstructive surgery on its foot and a full amputation of its tail due to infection caused by untreated cuts from the broken glass.
Charges of animal cruelty have been filed against the owner of the dogs and Molly and her puppies are now fully recovered and have all been adopted into new, loving families. The Animal Courage Award was accepted by Nanaimo Branch manager Leon Davis on behalf of Molly, a tenacious and courageous mother who refused to give up on her puppies despite the most dire of circumstances.
The BC SPCA Awards Program honours both people and animals who have made outstanding contributions to animal welfare during the past year. Recipients include veterinarians, staff, volunteers and animal heroes. The non-profit BC SPCA cares for nearly 32,000 abused, abandoned, injured and neglected animals each year in British Columbia.
The BC SPCA is a non-profit organization funded primarily by public
donations. Our mission is to prevent cruelty and to promote the welfare
of animals through a wide range of services, including cruelty
investigations, emergency rescue and treatment, sheltering and adoption
of homeless and abused animals, humane education, advocacy, farm animal
welfare, spay/neuter programs, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.