A stray dog who suffered shocking neglect, which left her nearly bald and covered in sores, has been saved by The Blue Cross in Burford.
Gentle giant Hettie, a four-year-old mastiff crossbreed, had such advanced mange she had lost large patches of fur when she was found wandering in the village of Kingham. She was underweight, her muscles had wasted and she was suffering from benign tumours and a congenital eye disease which had been left untreated.
The dog warden who brought her to the charity's adoption centre on Shilton Road said she had never seen a dog in such a bad state. Yet despite the great pain and neglect Hettie had suffered, staff were touched by her affectionate and gentle nature.
Elly Griffiths, animal welfare assistant at The Burford Blue Cross adoption centre, said: “Hettie was in such a shocking condition when she arrived that it was clear her problems had been allowed to deteriorate for weeks if not months. Her skin was swollen, red raw and covered in sores, and her eyes were red and weeping due to a condition which had clearly never been treated.
"Hettie had clearly given birth to several litters despite being just four years old and it seems she was the victim of an irresponsible breeder who appears to have used her and discarded her to fend for herself.
“We have no idea how long she was wandering as a stray but this is an appalling case of neglect and it is hard to imagine how anyone could have let her suffer so much pain and discomfort.
“It is amazing what a loving and gentle personality she has after what she has been through and we are hoping she will find the new home she deserves.”
Hettie was found by a passer-by on 25 August this year and taken to a vet in Chipping Norton, who contacted the council.
The dog warden brought her into The Blue Cross where staff were shocked by her condition. The vet confirmed that she had suspected mange, which is caused by mites burrowing under the skin, plus a secondary infection of the skin. She had conjunctivitis, and her weepy, red eyes were caused by an inherited condition called entropian where the eyelashes grow inwards.
Caring staff at The Blue Cross have been treating her skin with weekly baths in medicated shampoo and giving her antibiotic eye drops for her conjunctivitis. She has been neutered by vets at the charity but the operation was more complicated than usual due to the awful condition of her skin.
She now faces more surgery to correct her eyelids and to remove some benign tumours.
Elly added: “Hettie has been through a huge ordeal and we are just pleased she was rescued when she was as she would have been in great discomfort. She loves life and is a happy-go-lucky girl who has already learned lots of basic training.
“Hettie may not be the prettiest of pets but we would urge people to see past her looks and recognise what a wonderful dog she is.”
Hettie is looking for a home with a family who can give her lots of love, play and continue her training. She is sociable with both people and other dogs.
The hard work The Blue Cross does with needy animals like Hettie is only possible due to the generous donations of its supporters because it receives no government funding. Her treatment has so far cost more than £500.
To find out more about giving Hettie a home for life, call The Burford Blue Cross adoption centre on 0300 777 1570 or visit www.bluecross.org.uk.