On a cold January night in Earlton, New York, a man opened his front door to find an unexpected visitor. The man found a skinny, hairless dog shivering in the freezing air, and he had no idea where she’d come from.
“It appeared that she had been dumped by the roadside and abandoned,” a Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA spokesperson wrote on Facebook. “It was a cold night, and it was assumed she came to the door in search of food and warmth.”
The man took the dog inside and called the cops, who took her to the shelter.When the staff saw the dog, who had been renamed Penny, their hearts broke.”She was in bad shape,” said Ron Perez, president of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA.”She had some open lacerations on her face and neck, and she was nearly hairless.”It was heartbreaking.It’s always heartbreaking to see them like this.”
Penny was diagnosed with demodex mange, a severe skin condition caused by mites burrowing into a dog’s skin.
Demodex mange, if left untreated, can be fatal, according to Chris Reeder, a board-certified veterinarian at BluePearl Veterinary Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee. “In general, it’s more debilitating than fatal,” he says, “but in some cases, it can be.”
Penny had survived, but the mange had taken a heavy toll on her health — she’d lost most of her fur, leaving her with dry, flaky skin that had become infected and scabby.”When she scratched it, she scratched her flesh, which became infected and caused more bleeding,” Perez explained.
But, with medical treatment and lots of love, Penny recovered — and much faster than anyone expected. “She looked like a different dog within a week,” Perez said. “The veterinarian was very impressed with her recovery.”
Penny recovered even more as the weeks passed. Perez explained that her mange is now completely gone, but her hair may never grow back completely.
“She’s a true fighter and very resilient,” Perez said. “Her stress levels are clearly much lower now, because she’s interacting with people, eating properly, and sleeping properly.”While Penny was recuperating, the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA collaborated with local police to track down the person who had abandoned Penny.Penny’s former owner was identified within 24 hours, and he was arrested on animal cruelty charges.If convicted, the former owner faces a $1,000 fine as well as jail time.
Penny will leave on Saturday to begin her new life, and the shelter staff is overjoyed.”She’s just a sweet dog,” said Perez.”She hasn’t got a mean bone in her body.”She’s an absolute doll, and she’ll make an excellent pet.”