It Takes a Village
A community comes together to help a starving stray
For those of us who work with ani-mals on a regular basis– whether as veterinarians, shelter volunteers or animal advocates–seeing an animal in distress, particularly when it’s a result of abuse, cruelty or extreme neglect, is one of the toughest parts of the job. It never gets easier and, over time, it can chip away at your soul. But every now and then, you also get to witness wonderful acts of compassion and generosity that restore your faith in humanity.
Dawson, the Creek Dog
At first glance, he may not appear very interesting or excep-tionally good look-ing, but to hospital staff and regular vis-itors, Dawson is a very special dog. The only remarkable thing you might say about the medi-um-sized, mixed-breed is the curious stub where a tail should be and the perfectly matching slits at the tips of both his ears. That was not the case, however, when he first arrived at Ma-kati Dog and Cat Hospital last June 28, 2013.
Dawson’s story began when a volun-teer of animal welfare group CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) heard about a stray dog that was trapped in a creek in Makati City. Upon further investigation, she learned from people in the neighbour-hood that the abandoned dog had been there for at least a week, possi-bly longer. We may never know just how long he was trapped in the creek but judging from his physical appearance, he was slowly starv-ing to death. Weigh-ing a little over 13 lbs., the dog was severely emaciated, all skin and bones, with only a few tufts of light brown fur hanging off his skeletal body. He was so weak he could barely stand and his eyes had lost their lustre. He looked like he was at death’s door.
With the help of the barangay securi-ty officers along with an emergency team from CARA, the dog was res-cued. He was later named “Dawson” in a nod to the eter-nally optimistic eponymous lead character of 90’s TV series
The Road to Recovery
The road to recovery was slow. Ini-tially, he was fed small amounts of a highly digestible, quality dog food at regular intervals, which was gradual-ly increased. As he put on more weight, he regained his strength, slowly but surely. Throughout it all, the capable team of vets led by Dr. Carlos and Dr. Zaldy closely monitored his progress. It was later discovered that he had a hip injury, most likely due to some type of trauma. But even the lingering limp has not put a damper on sweet-natured Dawson’s friendly, outgoing personality, which blossomed during his stay at Makati Dog and Cat Hospital.
In the six months that he has been there, he has become a fixture at the hospital, greeting his favourite han-dlers, Miguel and Richard, with play-ful barks and vigorous wags whenever he sees them. He is always genu-inely happy to return to the hospital– a safe place that nurtured him back to health.
Perhaps what stands out most about Dawson’s story is how different peo-ple in the community came together to help a starving stray dog get a se-cond lease on life, proving the fa-mous proverb “It takes a village” holds true even when it comes to helping animals.
By Francesca L. Ortigas