How We Saved a Stray Dog and How You Can Too

This is a detailed documentation on how we saved a beautiful stray dog.

Sightings of A Sick Dog

On the nights of 27 August 2015 and 28 August 2015, my Dad and helper said they saw a stray dog that looked exactly like the one we adopted. For those of you who do not know, we adopted a saved stray, named Elliot, from Animal Lovers League (click HERE for their FB) earlier in January 2015!.

They also mentioned that it was walking with a limp and it looked very sick. They initially mistook it to be a female and felt it could possibly be the mother of Elliot, since Elliot was rescued from a construction site relatively near to my home when he was a months old.

 

The Beginning of Our Mission

I was determined to find and save this dog. A few thoughts came to mind but I first decided to inform Animal Lovers League as I might need their assistance the moment I find this dog.

According to my helper, this dog was most commonly seen at the park nearby our home. We therefore began this search at the park and covered a few lanes of houses nearby.

On 29 August 2015, my Dad and I went out to search for this injured and sick stray at about 9:00 p.m. We brought along a plastic bag of dog food and treats, hoping to be able to lure the dog. The search was futile but we managed to obtain some valuable information from some of the neighbours we conversed with.

 

Helpful Neighbours

We were walking aimlessly, hoping to bump into the dog by coincidence. We knew that we could not carry on like this because luck should not be the main ingredient of an accomplished mission.

We first approached the construction workers at two of the nearby construction sites but they claimed that they did not see any stray dog that matched our description. We also approached passers-by and residents who lived near the park. Through these conversations, we gathered findings that made our search a lot easier.

We met a domestic helper who lives nearby the park and she walks her employer’s dogs at least four to six times a day. She mentioned that this stray dog is usually at the park early in the morning from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m, and in the evening from about 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. She also mentioned that she suspects the dog survives on leftovers from some homes in her lane on a daily basis. Knowing which house feeds the dog is essential as dogs tend to return to the spot where they know food will be present. She also told us where she once saw the dog sleeping at 3:00 a.m.

A lady walking her Golden Retriever also managed to provide us with some useful information. She mentioned that this stray dog was sleeping outside her home the previous night.

I exchanged contact numbers with all of the people we talked to so that they can contact me if they see him again.

 

The Continuation of Our Search

On 30 August 2015, I began my search at around 6:00 a.m. After a good 45 minutes, I spotted the dog at the corner of the park. I was so happy and called my helper and Dad immediately so that they could help with the necessary preparations. Check out some images of this beautiful boy below!

First sight of the stray at 6:45 a.m. By looking at his neck, we can tell that he once wore a collar and has most likely been abandoned.

First sight of the stray at 6:45 a.m. By looking at his neck, we can tell that he once wore a collar and has most likely been abandoned.


The stray was extremely hungry and thirsty

The stray was extremely hungry and thirsty


He just wanted more and more! He must have not eaten for a long time.

He just wanted more and more! He must have not eaten for a long time.


I was following him around before gaining some trust.

I was following him around before gaining some trust.

He was really lovely and obedient. Unlike a typical stray, he was not very afraid of humans. Though he was a little cautious with me, he became less insecure when I began patting him and giving him more food. I followed him around the estate for about two hours.

He walked towards a domestic helper who was washing her employer’s car outside a house. He desperately tried to drink from the puddles of water on the road and I stopped him immediately. Thankfully, I managed to get a bowl of clean water from the helper and he finished the whole bowl at one go!

 

He Is Really Sick – Some Suspicions About His Past

He walked really slowly with a limp and looked really sick. There was a lot of mucus surrounding his nose, and he seemed to be suffering from some underlying conditions.

I saw him pass motion and by observing his watery stools, it is apparent that he has very bad diarrhoea. His urination is also extremely slow and disrupted. I can roughly conclude that he could be suffering from a prostate problem.

He looked pretty old. I would not be surprised if I was told he is more than seven years old. But there was one observation I had about him that lingered with me. From the previous images, you can see that there is a collar lining at his neck. This suggests to us that he has worn a collar on a very regular basis before in the past.

It is obvious that he once wore a collar. This explains his tameness.

It is obvious that he once wore a collar. This explains his tameness.

His excellent temperament and obedience also suggests that he was once a domesticated pet.

The shop houses opposite my estate were forced to move out as there are currently plans to develop a condominium there. I suspect that he was owned by one of the store owners there who later abandoned him when they had to move out. Of course, this is just a speculation and it is not worth to spend time speculating. For now, saving and treating him is my utmost priority.

 

Bringing Him Home

At 9:00 a.m. my Dad managed to get in touch with Animal Lovers League. The plan was to send him to the shelter and he would be scheduled for an appointment with the vet on the following day (31 August 2015).

I managed to gain his trust and he followed me back to my home. We fed him with some organic food and gave him more clean water to drink. He soon started to wag his tail a little and it was really a beautiful sight.

We had to be very careful and made sure that he did not come in contact with the grass in our garden or Elliot. He might possibly be suffering from tick fever, heartworm or have some other kind of viral infection that could be easily transmitted to Elliot.

Springside finished his meal so quickly, I did not even have time to take a picture when the plate was filled with food!

Springside finished his meal so quickly, I did not even have time to take a picture when the plate was filled with food!


We had to restrain Springside until the van arrived.

We had to restrain Springside until the van arrived.


Springside in the van

Springside in the van

 

To the Shelter – The Responsibilities of Saving A Stray

We engaged a van to transport our new found friend to the animal shelter. We had to give him a name for easier identification and so we decided to name him ‘Springside’ since he was found in Springside Park!

Springside was isolated from the other 400 plus dogs just in case he had something that could be spread. We met with Sprinside at the shelter shortly after he was transported there and we will be visiting him again soon.

We are currently awaiting news regarding his test results and we are hoping for the best.

By the way, Animal Lovers League is a no kill shelter, dedicated to helping injured and sick strays. That being said, it must not be treated as a dumping ground as a result of irresponsible behaviour. I will be writing another post soon to talk more on how they operate and also touch on the difficulties they go through daily.

Here are some things that the dog lovers need to know when it comes to saving a stray:

No matter what you do, be careful

Always have food or treats with you to gauge how approachable the dog is. Not all strays are as tame as Springside. Some are actually very fierce. It is always safer to engage the assistance of experts from the shelter.

Animal shelters rely on donations

Most shelters owe the vet too much money (as much as S$25,000 to S$40,000). Therefore, the vet will strictly disallow any form of credit payment. We cannot depend on the shelter to foot the bill as they already have so many dogs to care for. As a rescuer, we have to offer a sum as much as S$500.00 for the dog to go through relevant blood tests and vaccinations.

A monthly donation is necessary

Animal shelters that have no vacancies for new dogs usually suffer from serious manpower issues. If you do not intend to foster or adopt the stray that you have rescued, it is necessary to provide the shelter with a monthly donation of at least S$150.00. This cost can barely cover the daily meals of the dog. If is a dog which requires treatment, it means that the shelter has to fork out more funds.

If you cannot afford to help a stray

If you are not financially stable, do speak with the people from the shelter before performing a rescue or engaging them to do one. Most shelters might not be able to accommodate to a new stray as it might inevitably affect the other dogs who are already under their care. However, do still get in touch with them as they are beautiful and compassionate people who are fighting every day to give our furry friends a chance of a decent life.

Locating a stray

When trying to locate a stray, try leaving food outside of your gate. Dogs will always revisit a place where they think they can find a source of food.

 

Your Dog, Your Responsibility

Making a decision to own a dog is a huge responsibility that will be with you for about 8 to 20 years.

Before saving a stray, how can we first save a dog we would like to call our own?

Managing your finances: Visiting a vet when your dog is ill can amount to a minimum of S$250 just for a minor illness. When your dog is much older in age, it might require daily medical treatment which will be a cost as well.

Managing your time: If money is not a problem for you, ask yourself, is time a problem? Are you able to spend enough time with your dog? Bringing your dog for frequent walks is necessary for its mental and physical health.

Proper care: This is one thing that all dog owners must provide. If you take good care of your dog, you will not need to bring it to the vet so often. Not harming a dog is as good as saving a dog. Provide your dog with a proper and nutritious diet. Avoid foods that could be harmful to a dog. Improper diets can easily lead to common health complications such as liver or kidney issues. Having to see your dog suffer is a painful experience. Even if you are filthy rich and can afford any kind of treatment from the vet, please provide your dog with decent care.

Proper care and time are just two of the basic factors that can determine if your dog will be categorised as ‘need to be saved’ or ‘saved’. They are beautiful creatures that have emotions and they never fail to show love to their owners. No living thing deserves to be brought into a life of misery. If you cannot fulfil these requirements, you will not be able to save any dog and you should definitely not get one.

So, how can we save our beloved street dogs?

ADOPT!

If you are a dog lover, you might want to try adopting. Yes, dogs at the animal shelters are mostly strays and they might not be as ‘good looking’ as your S$4,000 pure breed dogs. But if you are able to meet one whom you can really connect with, why not give it a chance? It will be a decision you will never regret.

These strays come from extremely humble beginnings and they will truly appreciate you for giving them a new home. Unlike your pure breed dogs, they are never demanding, and they will always be protective of your family. It is as if they are trying to pay a lifelong debt to you!

The animal shelters in Singapore need to rehome the dogs under their care ASAP. I actually feel guilty by sending Springside to them but we simply do not have the means to provide the best life for him. The least we can do now is to visit him and try to pay for or raise funds for his future treatments.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I urge you readers to spread the word on adoption, and raise awareness on the sufferings our abandoned friends go through. My future articles will be aimed towards raising greater awareness about the truth of stray dogs in Singapore. Some of these strays suffer very inhumane fates. Together, we can make a huge difference!

 

 

 

 

by Justin Chua

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