Animal Rehabilitation Centre > Our Patients > Case Studies > Dora: badly savaged in a dog attack

Dora uwt

Dora’s story is not for the faint hearted. A lean and athletic whippet weighing only 6kg, Dora loves running with her owner. She is seen here in the underwater treadmill during her rehab at ARC; but a word of caution- the photographs which follow are potentially upsetting.

Dora was running on a lead with her owner in February when she was attacked by three larger dogs. She was terribly injured: her abdomen was torn open, herniating her intestine to the outside of her body. There were serious wounds all over her body, one the size of her head. A bite wound to her groin tore her main leg vein open. As her owner tried to pull her to safety, he also was bitten in the neck. Dora’s first guardian angel was a passing driver who pulled his car up, helped drag off the attacking dogs and then rushed Dora and her owner straight to the surgery. (He was later to refuse any payment or even allow Dora’s owners to pay for the extensive valeting his blood-soaked car needed.)

Dora arrived within minutes. The situation was grave: she was badly shocked, struggling to breathe, in tremendous pain and had already lost what would have been a fatal amount of blood. A large team swung into action: over the next few hours, as many as five vets worked to stabilise her while every member of the nursing team present (some who were off duty) and volunteer student helpers were involved, each with critical tasks. Dora’s second guardian angel was Corran, who was rushed to the surgery and gave blood for her. There was no time to get blood from the canine blood bank, but a pint of blood from Corran was enough to save little Dora. With so many hands on deck, some of our scheduled patients were delayed in their appointments, and we thank all of our lovely clients who were so understanding of the situation.

Little by little, Dora’s vital signs stabilised. As soon as her circulation was good enough, she was taken to the operating theatre where her third guardian angel Graham repaired her wounds. She came round battered and sore, and literally purple and black all over with bruising. Her intestines and lungs were damaged but would recover; but the situation for her left back leg looked less certain. The bite wounds had damaged circulation to the leg badly and injured the main nerve in her groin. It was not certain whether her leg could be saved- as her hugely swollen leg was massaged and stimulated, only time would tell if enough blood was reaching her toes and whether she would regain feeling.

Dora in the recovery ward

Dora in the recovery ward

With medicines to help her pain, TLC by the bucketload from her owners and the nursing team, and physio for her leg, Dora amazed us all with the speed of her recovery and she was out of hospital sooner than anyone expected and able to move on three legs. The prognosis for her left back leg was still far from good though: there were signs that the main nerve which controls some of her thigh muscles might be damaged beyond repair, and as her leg muscles wasted away rapidly it was feared she might have to have the limb amputated.

Dora came to ARC for intensive rehab. With massage to improve the circulation in her leg, ultrasound to reduce the degree of scarring in her shredded muscle, exercises at home and physio on the treadmill both in and out of the water, she and her owners were busy. Little by little, her bruises began to fade and she began to regain the ability to control her leg and put a little weight on it.

Dora is still in rehab at the time of writing. Although you would have to look very closely as she trotted past you, the huge amount of tearing the other dogs’ teeth did to her muscles means that scar tissue is still affecting how she can move her leg. However, she’s still improving, and while Dora’s not quitting, neither are we!

Dpra's injuries

Dora’s injuries