When two tiny Chihuahuas were found cowering on the side of a busy U.K. highway, it was clear to see that they were in a bad way. However, just from looking at the two little fur balls, it was impossible to realize the seriousness of their respective injuries.
In September 2016 Peg and Pip Squeak were found abandoned on the busy A127 road in Basildon, Essex. A member of public kindly reported the pups to a local dog warden; when he arrived, though, the warden noticed that both dogs seemed to be sporting injuries.
“The dogs, a mother and pup, had no microchip or any other form of identification and both were in a poor state of health,” a statement from the warden read. Furthermore, the mom was clearly missing her left back leg, while the pup appeared to be suffering from a head injury.
The pair were duly rushed to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) center in nearby Southend. Once there, the dogs received thorough checkups, and it was determined that mom Peg would need surgery on her hind foot. The pair were then transferred to a foster home where they could recuperate before their treatment.
“Peggy is missing the lower part of her left rear leg – an injury which has now healed – and we believe she will need considerable veterinary and surgical treatment,” Kathy Butler, trustee and dog coordinator with the RSPCA, explained in a press release.
“The vet believes it is the result of a traumatic injury or could have been caused deliberately. Although amputation is an option, she may be referred for specialist treatment and could be suitable for a prosthetic limb,” Butler continued.
However, the surgery was going to be extremely expensive even if, after seeking the advice of a specialist veterinary surgeon, it was decided that amputation would be the best solution for Peg. “[The vets] have not done this procedure on a Chihuahua before. It would cost a minimum of £10,000 [$12,200] and the artificial limb would need to be replaced at some point incurring further costs,” the RSPCA explained.
So in order to raise the vital funds, the RSPCA campaigned on its Facebook page and also launched a crowdfunding campaign for Peg and Pip. Very soon, animal lovers had helped raise about $1,500 to help the abandoned little doggies.
“Although the outcome for Peg is not what everyone had hoped for, we are still able to fund Pip’s neurology investigations and both of their treatment plans and any rehabilitation required moving forward because of your support,” the grateful charity announced. “Thank you so much for helping to improve their lives and making a real difference.”
But while her mom was facing amputation, Pip was also having a difficult time; the six-week-old pup was blind and suffering from having fluid on the brain. However, vets were going to have to wait until the swelling went down before they could investigate further.
Yet it wasn’t the fluid build-up in her brain causing Pip’s blindness. Once the swelling decreased, in fact, Pip’s prognosis turned out to be much, much, worse. Even an ultrasound scan found no explanation for her sight issues. So the little Chihuahua underwent an MRI scan to get to the bottom of her condition.
In the meantime, as her blink reflex was damaged, vets had to give Pip eye drops six times each day. Still, despite her discomfort, she was a playful young pup. It came as a shock, then, when the MRI scan revealed something very disturbing.
“An MRI scan revealed that she is missing part of her brain which means her optic nerves are not developed and she cannot see,” RSPCA press officer Amy De-Keyzer told The Dodo in October 2016. “It’s something the neurology team at The Animal Health Trust had never seen before in a dog.”
And not only did the missing part of her brain control Pip’s vision, but it was also responsible for coordination and balance. So although her brain was clearly not symmetrical, just how much she suffered from her affliction was uncertain.
As a result, then, ophthalmologists examined Pip – but their findings were mixed. “They cannot say she is totally blind, although she did fail all the reflex and light tests,” the RSPCA explained. “What amazed them was that when they did the obstacle tests, she did not fail at all and negotiated the obstacles with ease!”
Still, Pip’s condition was so shocking that some vets advised the RSPCA to have her put down. “They consider her prognosis poor and would recommend putting her to sleep,” the charity wrote on Facebook. “As she is still happy, playful, progressing well and is not in pain or discomfort, we (along with our vet) did not feel it was currently appropriate to end her life.”
As for how Pip wound up with such brain damage, the RSPCA suspected irresponsible breeding. “One theory is that she’s been bred from two merle dogs to produce a merle coloring — something which is desirable in today’s ‘designer dog’ culture,” De-Keyzer revealed to The Dodo.
“Breeding from two merles is not recommended as this colored dog can carry a faulty gene and any offspring can be plagued with health problems — like Pip,” she explained. Keeping such a dog alive, in fact, would involve lifelong medication and specialist care.
Meanwhile, the RSPCA’s decision to continue having Pip fostered until she could be adopted and given the full-time care she will need was welcomed. “Wonderful news! A huge commitment for someone but I am sure they will be paid back in equally large amounts of unconditional love and plenty of laughter,” wrote one commenter on Facebook. Then another queried, “Will she be up for adoption soon? I recently lost my special needs Chihuahua and I would love to offer her a forever home.”
For now, however, both Peg and Pip are recovering at their foster homes, but they should be up for adoption soon. Indeed, the mother-and-daughter-duo are undergoing amazing recoveries and, given appropriate care, both are expected to live full and happy lives.