Miraculous recovery. Pub Francis at Dogwalk after being rehabilitated. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/XPRESS

ABU DHABI A severely abused desert dog, whose legs were broken and spine and testicles mercilessly crushed, is now able to cart himself around, thanks to a concerted effort by animal lovers across the UAE.

In what is a telling turnaround to a tale of abject animal cruelty, timely intervention by a host of volunteers, vets and animal care centres has helped give a fresh lease of life to Francis, a mixed breed pup that was hit by a car and left to die on the streets of Fujairah.

Currently being rehabilitated at Dogwalk, a pet care centre in Dubai, the dog has been provided with an innovative set of wheels after animal group SOS for Emirates Dogs contacted the centre’s director Gui Palanque for help.

The nature of his injuries indicated that Francis had also been abused. He suffered from a heat stroke and his spine (L5) and spinal cord were crippled, testicles crushed, right front leg broken, back left leg numbed and back right leg partially numbed. His body had wounds and deep gashes.

Michelle Francis of Fujairah-based Animals and Us, who was among the first to come to the dog’s rescue, said: “Francis was lying in the heat on the bifurcation of two streets for over a week. He could not walk. There were pieces of wood in his rectum and he had a tight electrical wire around his neck. A vet in Fujairah did her best to revive him. A friend Andgharad Irving Jones visited me and contacted SOS for Emirates Dogs and thus began Francis’ journey of recovery.”


Dogwalk manager Mariana Costa said: “When Francis arrived at Dogwalk, he was in great pain. We sent him to Dr Max at the Vet Hospital in Al Quoz. The vet found a fracture in Francis’ elbow and did a surgery and fixed him with pins and plates. The dog stayed in hospital for five days before coming to us.”

With Dogwalk offered him physiotherapy, a cart and boarding, Francis’s condition improved dramatically within days.

Jane Heatly, Dogwalk’s certified rehabilitation practitioner, said: “When Dogwalk got him, he couldn’t put weight on his front leg and all the muscles were wasted. He was malnourished and had a lot of pressure sores. Due to his spinal injuries, Francis’ back legs do not work and he has no control over his toileting. Our team took great care with cleaning and medication. His rehab entailed providing ultrasound to the elbow, electrical stimulation to his muscles and exercises to help regain movement and muscle strength.”

Besides his physical condition, Francis was terrified and longed for love and care. “He was scared and needed attention. Through SOS Emirates and Dogwalk, we found several volunteers to sit with him and keep him company. They donated toys and treats and showered him with love,” said Costa.

Having won over his confidence, the centre managed to get his elbow working and put him in a pool to strengthen his muscles. “He loved it. Then, we adapted a cart we had made for another dog Mora who sadly had to be put to sleep due to her health. Mora’s owner donated the cart for use by Francis who now wears a red bandana in Mora’s honour,” said Heatly.

The dog is getting stronger by the day and Dogwalk hopes to send him to Michelle by the weekend.

Michelle, who routinely rescues animals, said: “This is not the first case of abuse. I have come across pets that have been burned, beaten, hung, skinned and have had things pushed up their rectum. They are dumped and left to die.”

Costa said: “People need to understand that dogs and other animals have souls and feelings too and that we, as humans, have a duty to protect and respect them.”


YOUSPEAK: Have you come across an instance of animal abuse?