It’s not unusual for the staff at Española Humane (EH) to meet a matted dog. In fact, it’s almost expected whenever a longtime stray comes in.
But, recently, they welcomed a sad, neglected pup into the shelter who instantly became one of the most severe cases they’d ever encountered.
“It took my breath away when I saw him,” Mattie Allen, EH’s director of communications, told The Dodo. “The only way we could tell which end was which was because we could see his mouth.”
Local animal control officers rescued the dog from someone’s yard, where he’d been confined to a small crate for a long period of time. When they brought him to EH, the dedicated team of caregivers jumped in right away to help the poor guy.
They tried to make him as comfortable as possible given the circumstances, but the pup was too scared to let anyone get close.
“He was absolutely terrified because he couldn’t see, and everything hurt,” Allen said. “It was like every centimeter of his skin was just screaming in pain.”
One of the staff members quickly figured out how to handle him without causing any more pain or stress. They carried him to the operating room, sedated him and then began the daunting task of removing all the mats.
“I think it took about an hour to shave it all off,” Allen said. “It was 5 pounds of fur, which is mind-boggling when you think about how much fur would be in there to weigh that much.”
When he finally woke up, the dog, whom they later named Giuseppe, felt brand new — so new, in fact, that he almost didn’t know how to process the sudden, drastic change.
“It was like he was in sensory overload because he couldn’t see for so long,” Allen said. “He’s been very quietly sitting on his bed, just taking things in.”
On top of losing his fur, the sweet boy was also dangerously obese. The vet team discovered that he had hypothyroidism, which slowed his metabolism. The resulting weight gain now affects his ability to walk and breathe comfortably.
Giuseppe still has a long road of healing ahead of him, but his friends at Española Humane are staying faithfully by his side. And they’re in no rush to see him off.
“He just needs time and love,” Allen said. “And we feel very fortunate to be able to give him that.”
As of now, Giuseppe’s not yet ready to go to a forever home, but his friends at Española Humane know that day will eventually come.
And, as bittersweet as it’ll be, they can’t wait to see the resilient pup thrive with the family he’s always deserved.