Washington: Chief Ken Ross received a call on Saturday from a woman who said her New York neighbour’s dog was neglected.
Ross and officers from Putnam County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals visited the reported home and asked the owner to see his dog.
Since founding his county’s SPCA in 2010, Ross has seen hundreds of mistreated animals. But he was shocked when he saw this dog, he said.
The miniature poodle was covered in more than eight pounds (3.62 kilos) of fur that concealed his eyes and much of his face and sprouted from his body like tentacles.
“This is probably the worst case that we’ve ever seen,” Ross told The Washington Post.
Officers charged the dog’s owner with animal cruelty. Then officers took the 9-year-old dog, Pierre, to a veterinary hospital.
Over two hours, three veterinarians shaved and cut Pierre’s fur, removing urine and feces and revealing a red collar around his neck that had been covered. Afterward, Pierre looked like a different dog, having dropped from 22 to 13.8 pounds.
Brian Edwards, whom the SPCA identified as the dog’s owner, could not be reached by The Post. He’s scheduled for an arraignment on August 30 at the Patterson Justice Court. The county’s public defenders office, which authorities said will represent Edwards, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
His Patterson, New York, neighbours said they had not seen Pierre outside in seven years, Ross said. When Ross visited the house Saturday afternoon, he said Pierre couldn’t walk normally. The dog also reeked of the waste that had stuck to his fur, Ross said.
Knotted and matted
Ross drove Pierre to Guardian Veterinary Specialists in Brewster, New York.
Jason Berg, the animal hospital’s founder, said he sees dogs in Pierre’s condition about once every five years.
“The pain that these guys are in when your hair is that knotted and matted,” Berg said, “it’s heartbreaking.”
Berg said Pierre’s fur had been growing for at least 18 months. Pierre was in pain when doctors touched his fur, Berg said, so doctors sedated him. Then three veterinarians used clippers and razors to remove the mounds of fur. They found his tan skin after cutting through inches.
“Nobody would think it’s the same dog,” Berg said.
A stack of fur sat on the ground after the procedure. Pierre had a bladder infection and a cut from the collar hidden beneath his fur, Berg said. Pierre remained in pain for about a day and didn’t eat.
But since Monday, Pierre has been devouring chicken and walking pain-free around the hospital, Berg said. Pierre has continued to receive treatment there.
Berg doesn’t expect Pierre to suffer long-term health problems. The SPCA found a poodle rescue center in Connecticut, where Pierre will stay until he finds a new owner.
“You can tell he feels a lot better,” Berg said. “I mean, he’s still a very cautious dog. So we have to go slow with him because, you know, who knows what he went through?”