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Blossom blooming after rescue from neglect

By Shena Novotny

Published 12:21 PST, Tue November 10, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

Good Samaritans found Blossom running loose around No. 6 and Blundell roads one evening in September and brought her to the RAPS city shelter. The German shepherd-lab mix was in horrible condition and very underweight. She was suffering from terrible mange, most of her hair was missing except on her back, head and neck. She had scabs all over her body, she was bleeding in a number of places and she kept chewing her skin because she was so itchy. She had all sorts of fluids discharging from her skin. And she smelled horrible.

Blossom was taken to the RAPS Animal Hospital, where her treatment began immediately. This was unusual because animals that come to the shelter do not come into our legal custody unless they are unclaimed for seven days. Therefore, significant medical interventions are usually delayed until we can discuss treatment with the owner. But Blossom was suffering so severely and was so clearly a victim of neglect that we began treatment immediately. 

Under BC law, the BC SPCA is responsible for investigating and recommending charges in cases of animal cruelty or neglect. Officials met with our team, spent time with Blossom and the matter is now in their hands. The owner admitted Blossom had not been to a veterinarian since she was a pup. She’s now six years old.

But Blossom is blooming in our care. She has been undergoing a range of treatments, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This innovative modality, common for many years in human medicine, is especially effective in repairing tissue damage, among other conditions. RAPS Animal Hospital is home to Canada’s only veterinary hyperbaric oxygen facility.

Blossom has been improving daily. Her skin is healing, her hair is growing in. She’s on three meals a day to regain appropriate weight. More than that, she’s really come out of her shell.

She’s got a big, bold, sassy personality and she knows what she wants—and what she doesn’t want. She doesn’t like the rain and she slams on the brakes if it’s time to go outside when it’s raining. She super sweet and quite a character. Eventually, she will find a forever home where she will be a delightful family member. She loves hugs and cuddles. That, too, took a while, though, because she has a sort of PTSD due to her condition. She assumes it will hurt to be touched, because it used to, so when we begin to pet or cuddle her, she whines as if in pain until she realizes it doesn’t hurt anymore. 

The RAPS Animal Hospital—and the hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility—allows us to deliver specialized veterinary care to animals that many other animal organizations would not be able to provide. As Blossom continues to improve, we’ll be looking for a special home for this very special girl. For now, though, she’s about to finally get spayed and vaccinated—procedures that have been delayed until her health permits.

We want to get her to a place where her fur is completely grown in, she’s not itching and she’s ready to take her place at the heart of a family. That will probably be a few more months.

In the meantime, we are asking people to be conscious of animals in the community and, if you notice any signs of neglect or abuse, please contact RAPS or your local animal shelter.

Shena Novotny is manager of the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter.

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