Rocky Road was a 7-8 yr old German Short Haired Pointer. His owner brought him to the shelter for euthanasia, saying she had spent thousands of dollars at the vet and still didn’t know what was wrong with him. They said he was going to need thousands more dollars of vet care and they couldn’t afford it. They told the shelter they had adopted Rocky Road from the Oregon Humane Society two years before and when he got sick they wanted them to pay for his vet care. When he was brought to the shelter, Rocky Road was extremely underweight, missing most of his hair and had fleas crawling all over him. His toe nails were extremely long and his skin was swollen and red and had scabs all over. He looked terribly depressed and smelled awful. I was at the shelter when Rocky Road came in and I asked about him. They told me what his owners had said while they lead him back to the euthanasia room. I asked (or rather begged,) for a chance to get him well. They were skeptical because they said he was suffering (clearly) and if the vets couldn’t figure it out, he needed to be euthanized. Still, they agreed to give us a chance with him.
Basic blood work done at our vet showed that Rocky Road had kidney disease. With a special low protein diet formulated for dogs with kidney disease, our vet said he might live a nearly normal lifespan. We shampoo’d him and scrubbed all the scabs off, treated him for fleas and changed his diet.
With his new diet, exercise, and basic care, you can see Rocky Road became a new dog in very little time.
We were able to recover Rocky Road’s prior vet records, and found that his former owners had already been told that RR had kidney disease and needed to be on special food. They had not done anything for him and then lied to the shelter when they brought him in. The special diet doesn’t cost that much money. It wouldn’t have cost much to trim his toenails or treat him for fleas, either. Instead, they let Rocky Road waste away, miserable, for over a year after their visit to the vet. By not treating his illness they allowed him to worsen and nearly die.
The condition Rocky Road was in when they brought him to the shelter was a perfect example of neglect. They brought him to the shelter for euthanasia because they were unwilling to provide basic care for him. It’s as simple as that. The lesson for us is the importance of assuring people can afford to care for their pet before they adopt one, because no matter how much someone love their pet, allowing them to suffer because they can’t afford their care is really not fair to the pet.