Warning : Photographs in this article might upset you.
We named her Laurel.

Laurel is sweet, docile and sensitive. She is a small street dog we came across on our regular feeding rounds. Laurel has a sweet face that anyone would fall in love with.

Meet Laurel

 Look deep into her eyes.
Time and again I have highlighted the strength and resilience of street dogs, the hardships they face on a daily basis throughout their lives and Laurel is no different.
Laurel's wound

Behind those eyes belie a deep pain that we could never imagine. A pain she tolerated, possibly for weeks or even months.
TVT – just three little alphabets and yet, the pain is immense. Transmissible Venereal Tumour. This is what Laurel has.
We saw her lying by the side of the road, and as she saw us pile food on the grass, she licked her mouth in anticipation. When we approached her, she stood up and moved away but the pain she felt must have been so intense that she lay on the road again just after a mere few steps.
Having worked with street dogs for quite some years, we know this isn’t normal behavior. With a feast laid in front of them, they would only do two things; eat or walk away. Walk away because they are wary of humans but they might come back to eat once we leave. So Laurel’s behavior was rather odd and fellow volunteer, Lisa, went closer for a better view. I was across the road with a group of male volunteers from Green Haven that we have recently partnered, when I heard my name called. I dashed across the road and was told that this dog had a huge wound on her private parts. As I approached, Laurel got up and gingerly walked into a factory to seek refuge. Lisa tailed her while I rushed back to the van to take out 2 leashes and a huge carrier. This was Laurel’s lucky day, she was meant to be saved! I had a huge carrier with me which I don’t usually bring along on feeding rounds as it takes up too much space. I quickly briefed two male volunteers on what to do, how to assist me and went in search of Laurel, who was by now lying inside the factory.
I could see that she was hungry so we took out a can of dog food and tried to trick her into eating while we sneaked up on her from behind to leash her. Unfortunately she was just too smart. A kind security uncle was there observing so we asked if he could lure her into his guard house where it would be much easier for us to catch her. He said she wasn’t very approachable but was willing to help.
As more workers gathered to watch, Laurel beckoned further into the factory. The noise and people scared her. The kind uncle followed her in and slowly leaned over to pat her. He then grabbed her by her scruff and held her down. Immediately I ran in with my leash and shouted for the men to come in with the carrier. With some struggling and what felt like eternity, I managed to leash her and shove her into the carrier. She was bleeding so profusely from her wound that blood stained the carrier, my hands, my arms and my clothes. The volunteers were concerned that I had been hurt in the process as there was blood all over me.

Volunteers from Green Haven helping to put Laurel in the carrier

Laurel safely in the carrier and all set to go to the vet

We managed to catch her!

The volunteers quickly carried the carrier and loaded it into the van, while I found some water to rinse off the blood from my hands and arms. I thanked the uncle and left hurriedly.
When I see pain and despair, I just feel the need to help. Sometimes rescuing a stray can be risky. Is it easy doing what I do? No. Is it worth it? YES.

Just arrived at the vet

Blood stained carrier
At the vet, Dr Teo Jiawen attended to Laurel and commented to her vet tech that this was the largest tumour that she had ever seen and then further commented that Laurel would be discharged within 3 to 4 days’ time. We found that a little odd considering she just mentioned she had never seen such a large tumour, but we have great respect for Dr Teo and as a vet, she would know best.

Indescirbable pain
Volunteers Lisa and Lynette were at the vet with Laurel and were amazed that Laurel was so sweet and calm throughout the cleaning of her huge wound. She was muzzled, just in case, but there really wasn’t a need to. Despite the massive pain she was in, she allowed the staff to clean her and in the midst of it, Lisa saw two worms crawling out of Laurel’s anus. Fortunately, it was just two.

Worm crawling out of Laurel
Watch video of the worm crawling out.

Laurel's pain

I can’t bring myself to complete her story without tearing, without heartache. How can we ever imagine the pain of indescribable pain? How long has she been suffering? Imagine the itch and pain. Then imagine all that and lying on the hot, rough road surface . . . . .

I recalled having sterilized her slightly more than a year ago. How was it possible for her to contract TVT after she had been sterilized? The following day I spoke to Dr Chan Mun Ling, the vet in charge of Laurel for that day. Dr Chan explained that perhaps it could have already been harbouring in her and no one noticed. After sterilization, I hardly saw Laurel on the streets but I often believe things happen for a reason and for her to be helped, our paths had to cross again.
To help Laurel be rid of the pain and recover, she needs a month of weekly jabs of Vincristine, a chemo jab. She has had the first jab with her second jab scheduled for Thursday. This drug has side effects but it’s something that Laurel needs.

Laurel is presently warded at Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Bt Merah). She is eating well and is feeling extremely depressed and sorry for herself. She patiently allows the vet techs to clean her wound daily and administer the necessary medications. She needs to be carried out to the grass to pee and poo, then carried back into the clinic. Imagine the pain when she relieves herself. I shudder just thinking about it.

Laurel will be discharged on Thursday evening because Dr Teo says she is well enough to go home. Where is home? She doesn’t have one unless we are planning to return her to the streets. We could ask for sponsors to board her at the commercial boarding kennels till she recovers fully, which might take a month or two . . . . .but who will clean her wounds, assure her and love her daily? Furthermore, the kennels can sometimes be dirty. What if more infection sets in?
We thank the male volunteers for assisting us in catching Laurel, Lisa for taking Laurel to the vet and Lynette for her soon-to-be-famous nutritious meals served to all our sick / injured doggies at the vets.
I never thought my journey was to rescue dogs but these days, I am beginning to see it well defined. It’s not easy doing what I love because it is not always fun or a walk in the park and it certainly isn’t always practical in a country where we are constantly reminded to choose a path that provides stability and security, but I do it anyway because I have a purpose to fulfill. It’s simple to discard our dreams for security but instead, I just had to reflect on those definitions, rearrange my priorities and separate my “needs” from “wants”. Simple as that. Instead of perceiving what I do as “sacrifices”, I view them as “contributions” and this, in return, has given me wealth with the animals.

If you have always wanted to make a difference in somebody’s life, START NOW. Don’t wait. Don’t spend time regretting. Just make that change, you will find it extremely meaningful.
Laurel is estimated to be just slightly more than 2 years old. She has her whole life ahead of her. Life has been painful, to say the least. With your love and kindness, help put her back on the road to recovery. Help her with the following :
1)      Fostering and cleaning of her wounds daily (TVT is contagious to other dogs)
2)      Aid with her medical bills
Thank you for saving a life.

Photographs courtesy of Lisa Goh