When Eric the English bull terrier arrived at an English veterinary clinic, his adoptive mom believed he was suffering from a cyst. But when vets X-rayed the dog, they found something much more shocking. All of a sudden, it became clear that the dog had suffered far more than they had originally imagined.
Liz Haslam is the owner of Beds for Bullies animal rescue in Norfolk, England. The rehoming center specializes in the care of bull breeds. And the rescue dogs that arrive at the center often bear the scars of their traumatic former lives.
In January 2017 Haslam had 15 English bull terriers in her care – all of whom had behavior problems or health issues. Among them was one lovable pooch named Eric, whom Haslam had rescued from Turkey.
The animal lover first became aware of Eric’s plight in March 2015. A friend had got in touch with her from Gökova in Turkey and explained that the dog was in desperate need of help. Someone had badly abused the canine, and they suspected that he’d been a fighting dog.
Dog fighting is illegal in Turkey. Nevertheless, it remains common. Often, the fights occur in rural settings where spectators are invited to watch. Dog fighters tend to use strong, muscular dogs – just like Eric.
Immediately, Haslam knew she had to help. Transporting Eric to England would be expensive, however. But undeterred, she managed to raise the $3,000 she would need for the dog’s airfare and much-needed vaccinations.
Then with the money in hand, Haslam embarked on the lengthy process of bringing the dog oversees. He was due to arrive in the U.K. in July 2015, but immigration holdups meant that his transportation was delayed by two months.
So Eric finally touched down in England in September 2015. And, unfortunately, that’s when the true extent of the dog’s injuries became clear. On top of his wounds, Eric was almost completely blind. Moreover, he appeared to be suffering from a painful abscess in his mouth.
As a result, Haslam decided to take Eric to see her local vet in nearby Bury St. Edmunds. And what they discovered there was truly shocking. Firstly, another dog’s tooth had caused the swelling in Eric’s mouth after becoming embedded in his gums.
The injury suggested Eric was indeed a fighting dog in Turkey. Hence, to check for any further injuries, the vet decided to take a closer look and X-ray the poor pooch. However, no one could have expected just what it would reveal.
Dozens of gun pellets littered the six-year-old dog’s skull. Vets found around 50 lead pellets embedded in Eric’s flesh and bone, just inches away from his brain. It shocked Haslam that the animal had actually made it out of Turkey alive.
“It is a wonder it didn’t kill him straight away or he didn’t die from septicemia from the filthy conditions he was living in,” Haslam told the Daily Mail in January 2017. “It breaks my heart to think what he’s been through, but I can’t allow that to tug on my heart strings because I have to get on with looking after him.”
Unfortunately, Eric will simply have to live with the pellets in his head. Due to their sheer number, vets decided that surgery to remove them would be simply too extensive. However, they did remove the dog’s tooth from Eric’s mouth.
In the end, Eric’s vet bills totaled more than $5,000. The substantial bill has consequently left Haslam struggling financially. As a result, then, she turned to her supporters to ask for donations. Without them, Eric wouldn’t get his second chance in life.
“All of my dogs have got issues and they are all rescue dogs,” Haslam explained to the Daily Mail. “I live for my dogs and do everything I can for them. To enable me to continue what I do, I need somebody to help me along the way with some funds.”
“All the money is spent on them and I don’t get a penny,” she continued. “I’m happy for people to donate to the vets directly so they can be sure where the money is going.” And, thankfully, her message worked.
Eric received his emergency surgery and both he and Haslam are now trying to move on from the ordeal. “His life in Turkey must have been truly horrific, I try not to think about it,” Haslam admitted to the Daily Mail. “He must have taken the full blast by the way the pellets have hit his face.”
And following his treatment, Haslam paid tribute to Eric’s vets on Facebook. In January 2017 she wrote, “Thank you as always for the fabulous care my Eric got today. You’re all so kind. What a shock to discover 50 lead shots in his head, but you guys, as always, dealt with it with such compassion and kindness.”
Haslam has since put Eric forward for the Rescue Animal of the Year Award. According to the Animal Hero Awards website, nominees must have overcome adversity to achieve something amazing. And there’s no denying that Eric has indeed completely turned his luck around.
However, even if Eric fails to get his paws on the big prize, he’s still a winner to most people. The dog has conquered unimaginable cruelty and is finally now settling into his new life as a domestic doggy. And hopefully, before long, he’ll bag himself the perfect forever home too.