Stray feeding – It entails so much more than just providing food for the homeless animals roaming the streets. Sterilization is our goal and also that of many stray feeders and animal welfare groups, in an arduous quest in working towards a stray-free Singapore.
When stray feeders see injured animals, they cannot turn a blind eye to it and pretend nothing has happened. The injury will only worsen with the harsh and dirty conditions they live in, and it is painful to see them suffering helplessly. Though worrying, stray feeders acknowledge that they cannot afford to bring every single injured animal to the vet. For minor injuries, most stray feeders resort to self-medication to treat the injury before it worsens or gets infected with maggots. Nonetheless, there will definitely be times whereby a vet visit is inevitable, given the complexity or seriousness of the injury.
Sungei, as he was conveniently named by a pet transport lady, is a lucky baby to be chanced upon by one of our volunteers. The volunteer was out on the streets one night looking for another injured dog, but whilst talking to the workers from a car mechanic workshop, the worker told her to try and help this puppy first. The problem was briefly described as “a hole in the tummy”.
She was puzzled and thinking hard as she followed the worker to see the puppy. There was a makeshift kennel behind the workshop, with metal fencing as its sides and two huge wooden boards as the “door”, propped into place with a shovel. As the volunteer stood around the makeshift kennel, rats were seen running around the area, possibly sharing or even devouring all the food left for the puppy.
Sadly, the living conditions within were filthy and unimaginable and it was a miserable sight. There was muddy soil and poo all around, leftover styrofoam boxes and takeaway plastic containers, urine-soaked cardboard, and even an old license plate.
The volunteer learnt that his mummy passed on shortly after giving birth. Thankfully, the workers took pity on him and took him in. The workers originally confined him with good intentions so that he would not have become roadkill, but were they doing him more harm than good? Will he eventually survive in this type of environment? Did mummy die from illnesses, or was she out looking for food so that she could produce enough milk to nurse her puppies, when she got ran over? No one knows.
The worker carried the puppy out of the makeshift kennel, and passed him to the volunteer. Upon closer examination, the volunteer realized that it was not one, but three holes on the underbelly of the puppy. The worker said the holes were the result of a huge lump with abscess that burst, but it looked more like it was from the bite of a big dog. The wound could also be a result of Sungei being bitten by rats.
Holding the puppy’s underbelly and bringing it level to her face, the volunteer was immediately struck with a horrible smell. She looked at the open wound and saw something moving within. At first, she thought it was simply the stomach. But where did the foul smell came from then? What she saw shocked her. Inside the three holes were many maggots, and what she saw that was moving was not the stomach, but maggots swimming inside the holes.
Alas. He was just slightly over one month old then. Alike babies, puppies have low immunity, and such injuries are life-threatening and can be deadly. She carried him to her car and put him into the carrier, and headed straight to the vet.
The vet took some time to clean and flush Sungei’s wound, and gave him medicine. Sungei was prescribed antibiotics, vitamins and also diarrhoea medicine, as well as antiseptic solutions and creams for cleansing of and application to his wound over the next days. The bag of medicine was as big as he was at that point of time, no kidding!
Sungei was extremely fortunate that a factory owner who loves dogs agreed to help foster him. The volunteer headed for the factory and spent an hour or so cleaning his wound and settling him down in his new place. Though injured, he was still alert and perky, and a mischievous little imp. The volunteer was scrambling around to get him food and water and prepare his medicine. However, when their eyes were not on him, he tried so hard to scale the steps of a staircase. With his tiny limbs that didn't have enough reach, he nearly rolled all the way down!
Sungei was also dewormed, and the worms that came out thereafter in his poo, were shockingly long and yes, they were alive!! The next morning, the factory owner told the volunteers that he still had worms coming out of him! How could a tiny little tummy be filled with so much worms?
The factory owner allowed Sungei to stay in the security guard office, so that the security guards could keep watch over him as well as him keep them company. Being boisterous and bubbly, he quickly won their hearts over.
A baby like him, should either still be nursed by his loving mother, or be cuddled by a doting family watching him grow up day by day. But unlike in pet shops where passersby go on and on at how adorable the puppies in the showcases are, mongrel puppies are aplenty but sadly far from being welcomed by some.