The following story was submitted to the From Woofs to Wonders Photo and Story contest. The top three finishers received a $250 Animal Rescue Site store shopping spree, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. To read more stories, click here!
When you see Ruger today, you would never know how close this sweet puppy came to a horrible death as a result of neglect and starvation. He must have had angels watching over him from above that sent angels here on Earth to save him. This is a story of an amazing transformation.
On a cold March day, police officers discovered an emaciated dog that had been left outside in a crate that was too small for the dog’s size – they immediately contacted animal control. If not for the quick actions of the police officers and the animal control officer, Ruger surely would have died. When the animal control officer saved him, she noted that he was covered in urine and feces, but she was so moved by this little guy, she didn’t hesitate to pick him up in her arms to carry him to safety.
Subsequently, American Belgian Malinois Rescue (ABMR) received an urgent email asking if they could take a 4-month-old puppy that was just brought in as a part of a neglect situation. The photos they sent were heart wrenching – Ruger was skin and bones, and his eyes were so imploring. ABMR immediately reached out to one of their best foster homes, and after one look at his photos, Kim was ready to drop everything to pick him up from the shelter.
Kim was brought to tears when she met Ruger. She drove him home and made him comfortable while she started the prescriptive diet recommended by the vets at the shelter and then gently bathed him to remove all of the urine and feces. Kim got him to the vet the next day.
When the vet examined Ruger, they found that in addition to being severely emaciated and having significant muscle loss, Ruger’s blood values were out of normal ranges, and he had gastric ulceration, orthopedic abnormalities, severe plaque on his teeth (vet was worried that he would lose his teeth) and burns on his body from laying in his urine and feces.
The vet did x-rays and reported that based on his growth plates, he was not 4-months-old but closer to 7- to 8-months-old. He only outwardly appeared to be so young due to the severe neglect. The vet told Kim that she was amazed that Ruger was still alive.
There was much worry that his bloodwork would indicate that he had permanent organ damage, but although his levels were out of whack, thankfully, the vet said it didn’t appear that he would have permanent organ damage. However, the orthopedic vet that examined him said that he would have life-long orthopedic issues.
After he’d been with Kim a few days, she noticed he was having respiratory distress, and she rushed him to the emergency vet. When examined, they diagnosed him with pneumonia, canine infectious respiratory disease complex and infectious tracheobronchitis. They felt he was so unstable that they wanted to keep him a few days to provide supportive care.
The pneumonia was especially concerning because Ruger was in such poor condition and his immune system was compromised, so his little body did not have the ability to adequately battle the pneumonia. It seems that there was a highly contagious respiratory bug running through the shelter, and poor Ruger picked it up while he was there.
As you can imagine, this kind of emergency vet care is expensive. Rescue setup a fundraiser for Ruger, and the wonderful ABMR family donated the funds to pay for Ruger’s intensive care. The amazing ABMR family also sent lots of love and prayers – it is hard to put a value on this, but it unmistakably made a positive difference.
Kim brought Ruger home after his stay at the emergency hospital and nursed him through the pneumonia with the help of her wonderful vet, but poor Kim also found that all of her personal dogs also came down with this respiratory bug, and she had to nurse them back to health, as well. Luckily, all of her personal dogs have recovered. And due to Kim’s amazing care, Ruger not only recovered from the pneumonia, but he has also put on much needed weight.
Ruger is now flourishing thanks to Ruger’s Angels. A very heartfelt thank you to all of Ruger’s Angels: the police officers and animal control officer that saved him, the shelter staff that gave him immediate medical attention and contacted ABMR to pull Ruger, the vets at the emergency hospital and Kim’s personal vet, and the ABMR family that donated to his medical expenses and sent lots of prayers and positive energy to him.
A special ‘thank you’ to one of our ABMR family that was so touched by Ruger’s story. She has been his greatest supporter and friend through Ruger’s journey. And last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to Kim, his foster mom, who has been his most amazing angel of all. Rescue can be so difficult as we come across so many inhumane and uncaring humans that it casts a dark shadow on humankind. But rescue is also where we find the most exceptional humans – like Ruger’s Angels.