No, that is not dirt. The brown color in the dog’s fur is a mixture of dried blood and around 100,000 fleas. When rescue workers brought Rascal, an abandoned 14-year-old terrier, into the Vancouver Island SPCA last week he was on his last legs—85% of his red blood cells were drained and he was in critical condition. The vet staff had two options: put the dog down, or undertake a lengthy procedure to try and save the dog’s life.
But when veterinarian Ken Langelier saw Rascal for the first time he could not give up on the plucky little dog.
“I looked at this dog and said, ‘You’re not dying on my watch, baby,’” Langelier said according to CTV.
Ken Langelier had never before seen so many fleas on a single dog in his entire 40-year veterinary career.
Rascal was in “critical distress” when he was dropped off at the Vancouver Island Nanaimo SPCA, according to Langelier.
“He was at the point of thinking of checking out, to die,” Langelier told CTV.
Dried blood caked his fur and fleas were crawling all over his skin. The roughly 100,000 fleas had been feasting on his blood for some time, and it was a miracle that Rascal was still alive. In fact, they had sucked out so much of his blood that the poor dog could not even stand.
“The most fleas I’ve seen and I’ve been in practice for almost 40 years,” Langelier told CTV.
Still, veterinary staff were touched by the poor dog’s suffering and they did not want to lose this poor dog, so they resolved to save him.
Staff started the procedures to save Rascal’s life—but were horrified at the extent of the problem.
Their first objective was to get rid of the fleas. To do this, they gave Rascal a pill that, when ingested, would kill most of the parasites.
Once most of the fleas were dead, they then had to bathe the dog many times to remove not only the dead fleas, but also their eggs. As they were washing the poor pup they were shocked at a coppery color of the water. Though the fleas accounted for some of the color, the copper substance was mostly Rascal’s dried blood.
“When the fleas drink the blood and they go to the bathroom, they’re basically excreting digested blood,” Langelier said. “Basically you’re seeing a sea of blood.”
Rascal was still in critical condition—he needed an emergency blood transfusion from another dog.
Luckily, one of the veterinary staff’s own dogs, a German Shepherd named Katie, was a universal blood donor. She was brought in, and after some quick tests that ensured she was a compatible match they began the transfusion.
The procedure lasted roughly 4 hours and transferred around 400 milliliters of blood. Rascal was finally out of the danger zone.
The dog made a full recovery
The transformation was incredible. Rascal went from a lethargic dog unable to stand, to an energetic one that even played with his savior, Katie.
He is expected to make a full recovery and is living in a foster home. Next, he will be put up for adoption.
It is not certain how Rascal came to live on the street, and law enforcement have begun searching for Rascal’s previous owner. If found, the person could face criminal charges, according to CTV.
“He’s going to find himself a nice home, where he’ll be treated royally, and be on flea prevention for the rest of his life,” Langelier told CTV.