One-year-old mixed breed, Rusty, received multiple life-threatening injuries while trying to defend his owner from her rampaging boyfriend.
The brave dog was taken in by the SPCA in Bloemfontein after his owner called the centre on 12 December, saying that he needed medical attention.
“The owner called us anonymously on the emergency line and we attended to the matter urgently,” Duán Matthee, an inspector at the SPCA, tells YOU.
“Upon arrival, the woman, who appeared to be about 30 years old, led us straight to Rusty’s kennel where he was lying with his back to us.”
At first glance nothing seemed amiss. It was only after the owner called for Rusty and he turned around that the SPCA team was confronted with the gruesome reality of what happened to him.
“My team and I were in utter shock when we realised his left eye had completely popped out of its socket,” recalls Duán, who’s been with the SPCA for four years.
“When we asked Rusty’s owner to tell us what happened, she explained she was being abused by her boyfriend.”
According to Duán, the emotional woman kept looking over her shoulder as she explained what transpired on the evening she was attacked, showing them bruises on her arms and legs as well as stitches on her upper arm.
“She told us that the previous Saturday her boyfriend had arrived home agitated and started beating her. Rusty leapt to her defence and in the process was horrifically injured.”
The man kicked Rusty several times in the chest and head and tossed him around the yard.
“The owner tried to tell him to stop but he pushed her away and she watched as her partner helplessly beat her beloved pet to a pulp.”
It was only after Duán and his team had removed Rusty from his kennel that they realised the magnitude of his injuries. “I had to carry him to the vehicle because he couldn’t walk on his hind legs. He was in excruciating pain.”
Rusty was examined by an SPCA vet who discovered through X-rays that his pelvic bone and jaw bone were severely fractured. In addition to his injured eye, he also had a large laceration beneath his jaw and bruises all over his body.
“Luckily, in the time that he’s been with us, he had had two or three operations, where pelvic screws were installed, his jaw was operated on and his eye has been removed.”
The woman tearfully shared how defenceless she felt that day, scared that her boyfriend would kill Rusty. She blamed herself for not seeking help sooner.
“I tried to comfort her and explain that she’d been brave just by reaching out to us,” Duán says.
“We informed her we could take care of Rusty until he was better and then return him but she said that she’d like us to find him a new home.”
The woman had decided to move in with her family who would not be able to accommodate Rusty and although she was sad to part ways with him just a year after getting him, she knew it was the right thing to do.
“Rusty had become the woman’s trusted companion. She was always indoors because she was afraid her scars and bruises would make people ask questions and Rusty always kept her company.”
The dog is now making a slow recovery and needs to regain his strength before undergoing more surgery. “He is wagging his tail, responding well to his new environment and just wants attention and affection from those around him.”
He also needs post-op recovery therapy to assist with the trauma.
“We took him on a walk recently and he’s still very afraid to use his hind legs.”
The SPCA is calling on the public to help them raise the R15 000 needed for Rusty’s surgery and therapy.
You can send a SMS to 42646 with the word Bloemspca. Each SMS costs R30. Or you can visit the Bloemfontein SPCA’s website and click on the donate button to make an easy payment towards Rusty, using his name as a reference.
Even though Rusty’s story is a brutal reminder of the horror of gender-based violence, Duán hopes it will create awareness of animal cruelty.
“Animals suffer greatly from this kind of violence and nothing about it should ever be acceptable.”A charge of animal cruelty has been laid against the woman’s boyfriend. It’s not known if the woman has pressed assault charges against him.