Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Stray's Painful Days

It was a usual Sunday meeting up and carrying out some site work. We just had lunch and were about to leave the industrial estate when we spotted a male stray dog and decided to offer him some food. Another dog made a quiet appearance a distance away when we were alighting from the vehicle.

We did not pay much attention to this second dog until we got closer to her. She was exceptionally thin, even for a stray without a caregiver. Her thinner-than-usual frame had us instinctively concluding that it was a probable case of intestinal parasites (commonly known as worms). She might also be suffering from other underlying medical conditions which were not visible to the naked eye. Surviving on a diet of food waste and leftovers salvaged from the trash and streets, coupled with living in a hazardous environment, the strays lead a hard life. Sad to say, many of them do not survive the harshness out there.

As she sat down to scratch herself, the reason behind the scrawniness became evident. Her genitals had a humungous growth filled with numerous lumps. It was a painful and heart-wrenching sight. This poor girl was stricken with Transmissible Venereal Tumour, commonly known as TVT ( It was not an unusual condition as we had come across and treated a few cases before. However, judging from the size of her growth, she must have had this condition for several months. The tumours usually develop outside the body only many months after the dog gets infected. Male dogs could contract TVT as well and tumours would grow on their genitals during the onset of the condition.

Extracted from Care for Dogs Foundation in Chiang Mai, Thailand (
An infected female will develop the tumor internally in her vulva and this in time will increase in size and show itself like a large sagging bag of blood dripping meat, which will as weeks go by attract flies, their larvae and other dogs. The female will then keep her tail down, become paranoid of anything near her rear end and of course be in severe pain as the tumor eats away at her body.

Those who have ever experienced Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) could perhaps relate to the pain that the poor girl must be going through. Just the mere act of relieving herself would result in excruciating pain and discomfort. We would never understand the extent of the agony that she had been silently putting up with all this while. The heat cycle of a female dog normally spans four to eight months (some span even longer) and we certainly hope she had not been on heat in the recent period. It would be unimaginable to have had male dogs preying on her and adding to the anguish.

The girl went on to seek refuge inside a power station and was extremely skittish. Even with food on hand, we had to throw it under the gate and retreat far back before she would even surface to grab the food and run back in. H called SP Services to ask if they could kindly help with opening of the power station gate.

The SP Services personnel came by after a while. The staff were kind enough to grant us access into the power station and we got down to work fast along with two other stray feeders. M and L stood guard by the left gate of the power station while the SP Services personnel waited by the other gate. S and H went in to attempt to corner the girl. Being extremely wary and swift, she had us going in circles for a good twenty minutes. Just as we were getting worn out, we could see that she was as well. She had also thrown up some food which were fed to her earlier but was nonetheless fixated on trying to get away from us.

As the girl headed towards the power station gate from the inside, M and L were alerted. She saw the SP Services personnel standing by the right gate and she made a dash for the left, wanting to dive out from under the gate. M and L had already blocked the exterior of the left gate with fencing by then. As S and H closed in on the girl from both ends, she hastily crawled under the left gate struggling to get through. She was trapped between the exterior of the left gate and the fencing but still not within our reach yet!

M and L ran forward to grab hold of the fencing to prevent it from falling, moving it slowly and steadily along to make the fenced-up area smaller. The girl panicked and was struggling under the gate to get back into the power station. A carrier was hurriedly placed in the only “open” area for her to enter the power station and just as she thought she was safe back in the power station upon freeing herself from under the gate, we had her caught in the carrier!

Everything took place far too quickly and it was a pity that we had no extra hands to snap pictures for sharing. We were just relieved that we managed to get hold of the poor girl to render aid to her soonest possible. The SP Services personnel cheered us on upon the successful rescue. They were appalled by her condition too. They took a few photos and remarked at how “poor thing” she looked. We thanked them profusely for their help and took our leave.

TVT is commonly treated with chemotherapy as it has proven to be the most effective and practical method thus far. Vincristine is the most frequently used drug for the treatment of this condition and the vet estimates that a minimum of six to eight weekly jabs would be required by the female stray, now named Sandra. Sandra also needs to put on some weight before she could be sterilised. As she is safe from other male dogs for now, the procedure would happen at a later stage.

A close-up

Judging from her extreme fear of people, Sandra might never have had contact with humans before. She shivers whenever someone touches her and tries to run away. She often has to be cornered before she could be brought to the vet. It is always a huge struggle but the fosterer will continue to condition her behaviour. It is heartening though that she has a voracious appetite. We hope that with patience and time, Sandra would gradually overcome her fear and leave her sad past behind.

Strays, such as Sandra, count on us for help. She was lucky to have been spotted by us and we were just as lucky to have caught her and to be able to put her through treatment, thus eliminating other male dogs from the risk of infection.

Should you wish to contribute towards dear Sandra’s medical bills, please email us at As always, no amount of donation is too small and we are grateful for every cent as it comes straight from your heart. Thank you.

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