A recent trend for Belizean families is to purchase expensive pure bred dogs such as the pitbull, bull-masstif, German Sheppards and Rottweilers. While these dogs serve as pets they are also used as guard dogs. The price for these dogs range between $250 to as much as $800 for an 8 week old puppy. The dog is purchased with little thought for adequate care and training. In extreme cases, these dogs are taught to fight and be overly aggressive. Oftentimes when animals such as these become sickly, the 'owner' lets them go, out of sight is out of mind, and the animal perishes.
Gus is a full breed pittbull that my partner Don found one day while assisting a friend with her car that had broken down. He and our neighbour Howard were preparing to tow the vehicle to a mechanic. Don looked out the window of the truck and saw something in the bushes that looked like a small animal.

He and Howard went to investigate and found a little puppy, extremely starved with a thick chain around his neck and a long leash that had gotten tangled in the vines along the roadside. Flies were all over the little dog and Don picked him up. He was so small and scrawny. He was so malnourished that he could not walk.Gus looked like a difficult case (he was the first dog that I rescued), and I was not sure that I could help him. Immediately I called Anne, she is a dog rescue veteran and her advice was extremely helpful. Gus had a weak immune system and he did not want to eat or drink as he was in an advanced state of hunger and dehydration. He had an infestation of ticks and I suspected that he might have had erlichia, locally known as tick fever.

I immediately went to the store and bought a bottle of Oral Rehydration Salts, otherwise known as ORS (usually for babies when they have diarrhoea). I syringed ORS into Gus’ mouth for the first 2 days. I began to treat Gus with doxycycline (a broad spectrum anti-biotic) for the tick fever, and treated him for worms. He began to drink water. I took some dog food and wet it with warm water and ground it in the blender.

This was also syringed into his mouth. This was Gus’ diet for the first week with us. As time passed, Gus got stronger and stronger and began to eat regular food, plus nice table scraps and other doggie goodies.Shortly after Gus came to stay with us, Don went to visit his sister in the USA for the summer. When he returned at the end of July, he could not believe that this beautiful dog was the same dog starved animal he found along the roadside.
Gus is a happy part of our family, and is always happy to see any friend come to visit and eagerly picks up his food dish, or any other leaf, stick, etc. in his mouth to have someone play with him. Then he wiggles his tail and does a funny little dance in a circle.

Pittbulls, the world over, have received a bad reputation for being aggressive, violent dogs. Any dog’s behaviour is a product of their training and the love and loyalty of their humans. Having been the owner of a pittbull for the past year, I can honestly say that they are one of the most loving and gentle animals I have ever encountered.
About the Author:
Joanna Monk

J. Monk
9/21/2011 12:44:44 am

I had no idea how much work you put into saving Gus from what would have been a long & drawn out death had Don not spotted him. Kudos to you for your determination and for being a true community leader for the rights of animals.


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