Phoenix Rising

Warning:  graphic content.

Earlier we blogged about Bill C-203, a sham piece of legislation purporting to protect animals in Canada. Mark Holland, MP for Pickering, has relentlessly pursued legislation with some actual teeth, most recently in the form of Bill C-229. Last year, Ontario’s Animal Protection Act was overhauled, giving the OSPCA greater powers to intervene and prosecute.

Yet travesties continue in our own backyard.


A story that we are following closely is unfolding at the Durham Humane Society in Oshawa, a city hard-hit by the recession’s gutting of the auto sector. Durham Humane was also devastated by an awful fire last Christmas. Their dogs are being looked after by the local Animal Control people and foster families.

As Durham Humane rises from the ashes like a phoenix, and is rebuilding its shelter, its challenge these past few days has been to give life and hope to another phoenix. He is a four-year-old Chow and he has been named, yes, Phoenix.

The worst case of animal neglect that Durham Humane has ever seen, Phoenix wandered into a back yard on Sunday. His fur was filthy and matted, where he had any, because much of it had fallen out. He was covered with bleeding sores. His nails were so long that they curved back into his paw pads. He was a skeleton under what remained of his fur. He was in terrible pain.

Veterinarians at Durham Humane have been running tests to discover the cause of his hair loss and assess whether he can recover. They’ve given him painkillers, bathed him, and trimmed his nails and matted fur. Durham Humane website reported today that he is doing a little better, loving his food, and walking a bit, but his condition is still critical.

The society has been swamped with phone calls and offers to help Phoenix. Funds have been raised to offer a reward for conviction of Phoenix’s former guardian.

This dog is not a stray. He appears to be a pure-bred Chow, and a cream Chow at that – highly unusual and desirable. It’s possible that he was part of a puppy mill operation. Mills are notorious for keeping costs down by skimping on decent food and care for their animals. Phoenix wouldn’t be the first mill dog to suffer horribly from mange and overgrown nails.

On the other hand, he weighs half of what a four-year-old male Chow should. That speaks to confinement, neglect and abandonment. As the reward climbs and the word gets out, it’s only a matter of time before the despicable devils that did this are charged.

Meanwhile, this isn’t an isolated case. It just happens to be in our own backyard. It’s the tip of the huge, dark iceberg that is humanity’s ignorance and arrogance.

Phoenix, those of us who hang out at Fred’s blog, One Bark At A Time, have fingers crossed that you, like Durham Humane, will come back strong.

And…Durham has had a hell of an uphill climb since the fire. Please consider sending them a donation, and if you can’t spare the cash, this well-deserving group of rescuers and volunteers could use your HBC points, Canadian Tire coupons or just Good Thoughts.

Update: September 1:  University of Guelph veterinarians report that he has inoperable cancer of the tongue, with no real options because his condition is so poor. Durham Humane’s focus now is to place him in a loving home for his remaining weeks or months.

Update: September 8: Phoenix goes to a loving foster home on September 9!


One response to “Phoenix Rising

  1. Just found your site the other night – very nice, hepcats! I suspect that you might be interested in what this group of Canadian veterinarians are doing, given your particular bent:

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