A dog infested with tens of thousands of fleas is on the mend after being treated recently at a Canadian veterinary hospital, and the disturbing case has sparked an animal cruelty investigation.
When 14-year-old Rascal was brought to the Nanaimo SPCA in British Columbia in late July, his small body was covered in fleas — about 100,000 — as well as flea dirt and flea eggs, veterinarians told CTV Vancouver Island earlier this month.
His health was deteriorating rapidly, and he was rushed to VCA Canada Island Veterinary Hospital. At the time, it was unknown if he would survive.
“He was at the point where he was thinking of checking out and dying. The fleas had drank his blood significantly, to the point where he had lost 85 percent of his circulating blood cells,” Dr. Ken Langelier of the Veterinary Hospital told CTV in an interview. The flea infestation was the worst he’d seen in his 40 years of practice.
By the time clinic staff got a look at the terrier, Rascal was in dire condition: he was extremely anemic, could not stand and was barely able to lift his head, Langelier said.
“I looked at this dog and said, ‘You’re not dying on my watch,'” he told the station.
Rascal underwent an emergency blood transfusion to help him regain his strength. The live-saving procedure was a success.
He was given a bath to remove all the fleas, as well as Racal’s own blood, which had dyed his fur a copper color because of the severity of the infestation, according to CTV.
“When the fleas drink the blood and they go to the bathroom, they’re basically excreting digested blood,” Langelier explained. “Basically you’re seeing a sea of blood.”
The animal cruelty case is being investigated by SPCA.
“We’re collecting information as to ownership and who had custody of the dog, and how it got into this condition,” Tina Heary, a special provincial constable for the British Columbia SPCA, told CTV.
She said the neglected dog likely suffered a long time.
Heary added that once the owner is found, he or she could face criminal charges.
Meanwhile, in the time he’s been treated, Rascal is a completely different dog, Langelier told USA Today on Friday.
He is expected to make a full recovery.
“He’s going to find himself a nice home where he’ll be treated royally and stay on flea prevention for the rest of his life,” Langelier told the television station.