The tattered dog stood still as her cage door opened today at Delaware SPCA’s animal shelter in Stanton, three days after she was rescued.
“She’s doing better,” said Executive Director John E. Caldwell. “She looks pitiful, but she’s going to survive.”
Nearly bald, few tufts are left of her thick, creamy fur. She is mature, maybe 3 or 4 years old, but petite for a grown chow, boney thin at 30 pounds, with the breed’s typical lion-like face. Scratches, lesions and scab cover her. Her right ear, a scarred stump, is two-thirds gone. Both ears are impacted by infection. Around wide dark eyes -- cloudy, partly blind -- hair was trimmed away as they began to treat her eyes, sealed shut by an infection.
She wobbles a few, slow steps. Despite severe pain, she responds to petting with a friendly lick of her chow-black tongue and a wag of her last long ivory hair, a tuft at the end of her tail.
She faces no death sentence. “There is no intention of that happening,” Caldwell said.
The SPCA appealed today for information from anyone who recognizes the dog. She had no ID, rabies tag, collar or microchip identification.
“I don’t see an owner coming forward,” Caldwell said, adding that stepping up to take responsibility for abandoning a dog in that condition would be unlikely from an abusively neglectful owner or owners. “They literally threw her away in a trash Dumpster,” he said.
Frank’s Pizza workers dumping trash found her about 12:20 p.m. Monday at the Shoppes of Red Lion, a small shopping center off Red Lion Road (Del. 71). They called 911 and Delaware State Police contacted the SPCA, which investigates animal cruelty cases.
Caldwell said the dog could not have gotten into the bin on her own. “Cats find their own way into Dumpsters and raccoons find their own way into Dumpsters,” he said, but there was nothing around the trash bin for the dog to have climbed and the bin was too tall for a jump by such a weakened and critically ill dog.
Caldwell called the dog a victim and symbol of “the throw-away society,” dumped like an inanimate object when the convenient usefulness expired.
He theorizes the owner let simple medical problems grow worse over an extended time -- then dumped her for a slow and painful death instead of taking her to a veterinarian for care. It is the plight, he said, of too many pets whose owners are ignorant of their needs and the responsibilities of ownership -- legal or moral.
Since the dog’s rescue, her care has included treatment for severe flea infestation, antibiotics for eye and ear infections, treatment for severe tape worms and medicated bathing to ease her skin. Experts could not determine if she went blind from the infection that had sealed her eyes. Skin scrapings are being sent for testing in culture for mange, a rare and severe disease of mammals that is caused by parasites.
The dog’s plight prompted more than 90 people to call the shelter, checking on the dog’s condition, offering help or asking about the idea of adoption.
The SPCA welcomes contributions toward her care, said Caldwell, who refers to her by her shelter ID as “123 Blue.”
And adoption is the SPCA’s goal, Caldwell said, but the priority now is her continuing care and recovery. When fully recovered, she could be placed with a loving family or, perhaps, she could get an earlier shot at joining an adoptive family that is able and willing to keep nursing her back to health, he said.
But what Caldwell, in charge of the SPCA’s animal abuse investigation, wants most is a lead on her owner -- whom he plans to charge with cruel neglect and failure to provide veterinary care, punishable by fines, possible prison time and restrictions on animal ownership.
Authorities ask anyone who recognizes this dog to call the Delaware SPCA at 998-2281.