Medical Aid For A Factory Dog

Behind those eyes and wagging tail is a story of hope.

Mookie, a factory dog, is estimated to be about 8 to 10 years old. He used to live on the streets as a stray but two years ago decided to move into a factory because there was better food, more regular meals and perhaps, he preferred the living environment. An elderly security guard would cook rice daily, mixing it with kibbles that volunteers do sometimes supply him with, to feed the animals living in his compound, even though he does not earn much. Currently, there are a total of 14 cats and 3 dogs living in that compound, including Mookie. 

Mookie's extremely swollen ear, caused by a burst blood vessel

Mookie's loss of fur caused by the infestation of fleas as he lives with 14 cats

Street animals very seldom live past mid-age. Even this age is considered relatively old for a stray. Often, they are killed as puppies when they learn to walk and to wander out in search of food, or they get killed in traffic accidents or construction site accidents. Living on the street, strays are exposed to the constant risk of accidents, illness, starvation and abuse. We know that strays come in all sizes, breed mixes, ages and colors; some with 4 legs, some with less; many injured and ill, but they all share common characteristics: they are homeless, they need our help and they all deserve loving homes.

Like all street animals, Mookie has had a hard life. Mookie looks older than he actually is. He hardly has any fur left, partly from old age, as well as from being bitten by fleas, as he lives on a compound with many cats. His right eye is shrunken and he has lost vision in that eye. This makes it extremely dangerous for Mookie living on the streets as his vision is limited and he might not be able to see approaching traffic. Apart from this “handicap”, Mookie’s hind legs are weak and arthritic. His legs tremble even as he stands to eat or be patted.

Mookie's hind legs tremble badly

About a month ago, volunteers from another animal welfare group had taken him to the vet as they noticed that Mookie had a hematoma in his left ear. We would like to thank them for their kindness and care for him. 

Mookie with his very swollen ear, caused by a hematoma

Often, we feel sorry for these street animals because we feel that they have to “sacrifice” themselves in order for us to notice them, for us to save and care for them. Had Mookie not been unwell, we would have just patted him, fed him and gone on with our regular feeding rounds. We would not have spent more than a few minutes with him or given him the love and attention that he has been waiting for all his life.

This time round, while we were trying to catch a sick stray dog across the street from where Mookie lives, we noticed that Mookie's ear was looking terribly swollen again. The reason why his hematoma was back again is that he has an ear infection, causing him to vigorously shake his head and thus bursting a blood vessel in the process, causing an accumulation of blood in his ear. This is the third time in a span of one and a half months that Mookie has a hematoma. 

Normally, if a hematoma is left untreated, the dog's ear would eventually burst, causing an open wound. It is unlikely that Mookie will bleed to death, but without medical aid, his open wound would be prone to another ear infection, maggot infestation or other complications that may result in the loss of his hearing or even his entire ear. Not to mention the pain and discomfort he would have to endure. 

Mookie's old eyes plead with us to help him. His right eye is shrunken and he no longer sees from that eye.

We quickly arranged for a pet transport to take Mookie to the vet the following day. However, when they got there, Mookie was nowhere to be found. It was a wasted trip for the pet transport, who kindly waived their charges.

That night, volunteers made a special trip down to the factory to look for the security uncle to inform him to wait with Mookie for the pet transport to arrive the following day.

The next day, Mookie arrived at the vet and Dr Teo JW said that the condition of his ear was really bad and an aspiration (process of draining fluids from an infected area using a syringe) alone would not solve the issue. He would need a minor surgery under general anaesthesia to avoid the reoccurrence of the hematoma in his ear and also addressing his inner ear infection. We agreed for Mookie to proceed with the ear surgery scheduled for the following day, and be warded for the night. However, after taking a blood sample to ensure that he was fit for the surgery, it turned out that Mookie’s blood results were bad and the surgery had to be postponed. Poor old Mookie had tick fever, heartworm as well as anaemia, on top of having a hematoma in his left ear and vision only in his right eye! Such is the sad life of a factory dog, and Mookie is actually considered quite fortunate to have a security guard care - bathing, feeding and medicating him. We couldn’t but help compare him to Harry. Who is in a worse off situation?

Since the surgery had to be postponed due to his poor health, only an aspiration on his ear was done. The pet transport then took Mookie back to his factory the following day.

That same night, HOPE volunteers went to Mookie's factory again to bring cooked liver and rice for him, to build him up. He was still a little drowsy from his sedation when the aspiration was done, but his ear was at least 60% less swollen. Mookie did not really have an appetite for his food; he just lay on the cold hard pavement, enjoying pats from the volunteers. The volunteers explained the ear medications to the security uncle, who was so glad to have Mookie returned safely to him.

We would like to thank the family who came to Mookie's rescue and helped with his vet bill for his first treatment.

However, a week later, Mookie’s ears started swelling again and this time, it happened in a very short span of time, for the third time! Poor Mooks. Volunteers had to take him to the vet yet again to have the blood and fluids drained from his swollen ear. Through it all, Mookie has been very cooperative, occasionally whining and crying when his ear was cut with a blade, with blood and pus being squeezed out from it. He was a tough old dog.

Squeezing blood and pus out from Mookie's ear

Pus coming out from Mookie's ear as it was quite badly infected

Sweet old Mooks enduring the painful procedure

Getting his head bandaged

Looking like a sweet Christmas present and smiling despite the pain

His ear was still bleeding as he left the clinic for the boarding kennels

Again, we were reminded by the vets that this procedure was just a temporary solution and that what Mookie really needed was a surgery on his ear and to cure his underlying ear infection. However, this can’t be carried out at this present moment as Mookie is too weak and unwell; we might lose him on the operating table and we definitely don’t want to take that risk.

This time, however, after the procedure on his ear, we decided to board him at boarding kennels for a week or two. Volunteers would work out shifts to visit him twice a day; to clean his ears, change his dressing and medicate him, in the hope that his inner ear problem would heal completely and the hematoma not occur again as it is too painful a process for poor old Mooks to endure every other week.

Mookie has been at the boarding kennels for the past few days, crying and whining the first two days, wanting to go back to his factory. He refused the dog food that volunteers bought for him and feeling sorry for him, they decided to spoil him with chicken rice, liver and eggs daily – which Mookie wolfed down in a flash!

Mookie on the way to the boarding kennels to recuperate for two weeks

Doesn't this face show how much faith he has in humans?

Mookie having a good rest at the boarding kennels

Mookie's bowl of rice, potatoes and chicken, lovingly prepared by Lisa

Our volunteers will continue to take time off from work to go down to the boarding kennels twice daily to medicate and change his dressing, as well as to feed him. His wound seems to have dried up and he is shaking his head less. As soon as his inner ear infection is cleared, volunteers will arrange to take Mookie back to the factory and will continue to visit him frequently to ensure he is happy and well. We don’t want his hematoma to recur as the process is painful and costly We are hoping his inner ear infection would be rid once and for all and Mookie would not have to proceed with the ear surgery.

Volunteers also want to try their best to ensure that Mookie’s other good eye is taken care of so he does not lose his remaining eye. They will check on him twice weekly, cleaning and applying eye drops for him.

If you would like to help Mookie with the following, please email Fiona at pops_snaps@singnet.com.sg
  1. Vet bill for 2nd ear aspiration $492/- (stayed overnight at vet)
  2. Vet bill for 3rd ear aspiration $329/-
  3. Pet transport $110 (Paid by Rosalind L, thank you!)
  4. Boarding + dog food  $315/- (estimated, based on boarding of 2 weeks) 
As animal welfare volunteers, we cross paths with old dogs who desperately need our help. Why are we so passionate about giving aid to senior street dogs? It gives us a warm fuzzy feeling inside to know that we have given an elderly stray dog a few more years worth living. All dogs are equally special and close to our heart, regardless of whether they are pets or mere strays. They deserve to be cherished and helped.  We believe that it's worth our time and worth the fight.

As long as there are dogs just like Mookie out there, our work will continue, bringing them the light of Hope they all truly deserve.

We would like to thank our volunteers Lisa, Mandy, Jamie, Susan and Jo-Ann for caring for and loving Mooks.   

Photographs courtesy of Jamie, Lisa and Jo-Ann. Written by Jo-Ann.