Public give R61?000 to save police dog’s life

2010-07-07 00:00

THE police and the public have been brought closer through a fundraiser to save the life of a Rottweiler dog that is an active member of the Durban South dog unit.

Thor is a seven-and-half-year-old Rottweiler that was diagnosed with cancer — aggressive melanoma — in March 2.

To save his life, DNA injections had to be imported from the United States at a hefty price.

The South African Community Action Network (SA Can) took on the challenge and raised the R40 000 needed for the treatment, as well as an extra R21 557, which will be used for contingencies and ongoing support for police dog handlers and their dogs.

This money, donated by members of the public, was raised in an incredible 12 days,” said SA Can chief executive officer Brian Jones.

“The response was an extremely humbling experience,” said Jones.

SA Can appealed to the public to assist in helping the dog unit because they admire the tremendous contribution the units make to a safer South Africa.

“We know personally how much passion and dedication this team has, having an incredible track record amid the challenges they face,” Jones said.

Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge of the SAPF said they “warmly received” the gesture, adding that Thor is a valued member of the team.

Jones said the public’s contributions to saving Thor’s life helped in “bringing the community closer to the police” and raised awareness of “the incredible work SAPF teams do, helping to build many new bridges and friendships”. He said the public response made him proud and showed what South Africans can do together.

Dr Martin de Scally, a veterinarian with the Hilton Veterinary Hospital who has 20 years’ experience in treating cancer, has administered the first two of four treatments to Thor. Once he has received all four treatments, he will be given a booster shot every six months, said De Scally.

He said the vaccine is a novel way of treating cancer as it teaches the immune system to fight back.

The story of Thor and his partner, Sergeant Pedro Rodrigues, persuaded De Scally waive all professional medical fees.

“He is quite an amazing animal and the bond between Pedro and Thor is really special,” said De Scally.

The veterinarian is hopeful that this treatment will cure the dog. He said it has been about 70% successful so far, but there are no concrete success rates to rely on as the pro­duct is still new to the market.

Although it is expensive, De Scally said he would recommend the treatment to other clients, as it is more likely to defeat cancer than other methods being used.

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