Late in March 2015, TSPCA's investigation department received a report of a dog suffering from a serious skin disease in a Shulin factory. There had been no improvement in the medical condition for a considerable period of time, and it seemed likely that the owner had not taken the responsibility to seek medical care for the pet. Therefore, a concerned member of the public hoped that our investigation department could look into the matter. We were also informed that other than the mixed breed white dog with the serious skin condition, there was also a golden retriever that has been chained outside the factory for a long time.
Once our inspectors obtained the relevant evidence, they went to visit the site to determine the condition of the dogs. On-site investigation showed that while the golden retriever was kept outside of the factory, its living environment was clean, the dog was healthy, there was enough space to move around in and exercise, and shade was available. Based on the investigators' observations, the golden retriever's living environment currently complies with the Taiwan Animal Protection Act and the owner was not intentionally abusing the dog. Therefore, we asked the owner to bring the golden retriever to an animal hospital in a timely manner to get a microchip and shots as well as to get the tumor on its belly checked out. We also suggested that the dog be kept inside the home.
The other dog was named Little White. During the first visit, our investigator discovered that his skin condition was very serious and that his ears were badly infected and inflamed with a considerable amount of pus. The factory owner stated that Little White was actually not his dog, but had been abandoned by his original owner, and as he did not know where to send Little White, so he just provided him with food and water outside of the factory. They did not know how to deal with the skin condition either. After an internal analysis and discussion by the TSPCA and vets, it was concluded that it would take Little White months and months to fully recover. If Little White was left outside, homeless, his skin and ears would not improve. He would be constantly uncomfortable, with a low quality of life.
Therefore, when the investigators visited for the second time in early April, they took Little White to a hospital and began treatment immediately. Luckily, the initial examination showed that there were no parasites. The doctor believed that his skin condition might be caused by an allergy to fleas. That day Little White's ears were cleaned and the treatment for his skin condition began. He was also immediately admitted to the hospital in preparation for more examinations and treatment.
After a few days in the hospital, the doctor discovered that Little White had a serious heartworm infection. Treatment for his ears, skin and heartworm commenced immediately. Heartworm treatment takes many months of continuous medication, while the skin and ears also require continuous care.
The investigation department currently has many cases involving homeless dogs. Although in some areas people periodically feed them, these dogs are ownerless in the eyes of the law. They are merely homeless dogs that get fed by people. If you encounter an injured homeless dog, you can:
- Try approaching and soothing the injured dog. Based on his reaction, determine whether or not the dog can be captured. If so, bring the dog to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. During the treatment, start to ask around or look online for a foster home or an adopter.
- If you are still unable to get close to the injured dog, ask a local animal welfare group that does animal rescues to help. After giving them the dog's location and a picture showing the dog's appearance and condition, stay there and wait for the rescue workers. Help by telling them information such as the dog's condition and how he/she was found. Also, as much as possible, try to help the animal welfare group to find a foster home or adopter.
- If you have tried both of the options above and the situation still cannot be resolved, in consideration of the injured animal's life, the last option would be to call the local Animal Health Department. Although there is a two year moratorium on euthanizing animals after 12 days, the TSPCA still believes that the conditions in government shelters is unsuitable for animals. Because the adoption and capture rates for dogs are not proportional, it is common for a shelter to have too many animals. In an environment where living space is limited, the noise is constant and, as the dogs come from all sorts of places, if any one dog gets an infectious disease, it is possible that all the dogs will get infected, causing a tremendous amount of stress on the animals' physical and mental health, while possibly leading to numerous deaths. For these reasons, the TSPCA is strongly against solving an animal's issues in this way. If there is really no other option than to ask for help from a government shelter, we recommend that you ask the caseworker which shelter the dog will be taken to, or even follow them to the shelter to check on the dog's condition. At the same time, ask family and friends or go online to seek an emergency foster home or adopter. Take the dog out of the shelter as quickly as possible once his/her condition has stabilized.
The TSPCA must remind everyone that we are still strongly opposed to sending animals to government shelters for treatment. Taking an animal to the vet yourself or asking a local animal welfare group to help are considerably better options. Only when you take on the rescue responsibility are you really helping injured homeless animals.