She was one of the thinnest dogs workers at the Progress Avenue shelter in Scarborough had ever seen.
Sick, pale, depressed and with every rib showing, Twiggy (as the Toronto Animal Services staff named her) was picked up from an East York street on June 27 near Victoria Avenue and Dawes Road.
Registered at the Scarborough shelter as German shepherd cross-breed, she weighed just 19 pounds. Later, the dog was also found to be suffering from a dislocated hip and ruptured knee ligament, though she didn’t seem to be in pain.
Two-year-old Twiggy, visiting the shelter again this week, owes her dramatic recovery to the donations Animal Services receives and a family willing to foster her for months outside the city.
She’s now at a pretty good weight, about 30 pounds, and her prospects are good, Mary Lou Leiher, a TAS spokesperson, said Wednesday, Dec. 6.
The shelter staff don’t know much about Twiggy’s first 18 months.
Animal Services, which never refuses to take a dog to shelter, got a phone call about a “stray” dog, Leiher said. “We really don’t know what the history is there.”
Twiggy, who had a normal appetite, was unspayed and had no collar.
At Rouge Valley Animal Hospital on Island Road in early July, the City of Toronto said this week, she was diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, “an inability to properly digest food due to lack of digestive enzymes made by the pancreas” before being sent to the Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital, near Birchmount and Ellesmere roads, for treatment. “It’s possible, for whatever reason, the owner couldn’t give her the veterinary care she needed,” Leiher said, adding that’s a reason many dogs wind up in shelters. “It’s not necessarily wilful abuse.”
Twiggy is now on medication she will probably always need. “She was starving – it wasn’t necessarily because she wasn’t being fed,” said Leiher, who thinks the dog may partly be of an Australian breed such as a heeler.
Twiggy needed an operation to correct the injuries to her leg, which could have been brought on by her lack of muscle mass. Over time, though, she got better.
The city said her story shows why Animal Services relies so much on donations and people who want to foster dogs. “It helps them get better quicker,” said Leiher.
Twiggy’s foster family will likely adopt her.
The fact that she is back to being a healthy, loving dog is an inspiring story, said Glenn De Baeremaeker, a Scarborough councillor. “Obviously some very compassionate people took that dog in.”
De Baeremaeker thought the dog had been abandoned.
On Wednesday, he said an owner who let Twiggy reach this state would be guilty of cruelty. “There’s just no excuse to do this to an animal,” he said.
Anyone who wants to make a donation or foster an animal is being asked to visit www.toronto.ca/animalservices or to call 311.