There was something about the slow-moving black dog that caught the men’s attention. It appeared deathly ill, but when they approached to take a closer look, they couldn’t believe what they saw. In fact, they realized that the fur was dripping – and the dog’s life was dripping away with it.
Argentina doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to its treatment of stray animals. Indeed, authorities there have been known to use brutal methods such as gas chambers to control the population. However, in some regions such chilling techniques have thankfully become a thing of the past.
In fact, some parts of the country have introduced laws against killing street animals. While this is obviously good news for animal lovers, it has left cities with large quantities of strays roaming the streets. One such city is Lanus, near to the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires.
In May 2017 two men encountered a dog who was in desperate need of help. From a distance the dog probably just looked dark in color, but presumably its movements gave away its ailing health. In any case, the men went to help the stray.
However, as they came closer, they came to the horrifying realization that the dog wasn’t black at all. In fact, the source of the dog’s color and its ailing health were one and the same: it was covered in tar. Indeed, the toxic substance was poisoning the poor stray and its health was fading fast.
While petroleum poisoning in dogs isn’t unheard of, it isn’t massively common either. That makes the mystery of how the stray became covered in the tar even more confounding. Moreover, there was no evidence to point to the dog having been subjected to any previous abuse, so there’s a chance its beleaguered state was the result of an accident.
By the same token, the dog may also have been the victim of a dreadful deliberate act. Regardless, the result was the same: the stray was dying. Indeed, petroleum products are easily absorbed through a dog’s skin and subsequently find their way into the animal’s digestive system.
In addition to irritating the skin, such toxins can also burn the stomach, mouth and throat. Increased exposure will result in vomiting, diarrhea and – in extreme cases like the stray was facing – death. As a result, it was imperative that the men found help for the dog immediately.
If it hadn’t been for the intervention of a friendly police officer, the boys would have struggled to help the dog. However, thanks to the officer’s advice, the animal lovers took the poor creature to a nearby clinic. What’s more, thankfully the rescuers weren’t the only lifesavers around that day.
Indeed, the vets called in backup from Zoonosis Lanus, an Argentinian rescue group dedicated to helping animals in need. “We are a group of people that [unite] to improve the quality of life [for] animals,” its Facebook page explains. “[We want] to give them the dignity they deserve.”
To that end, the volunteers immediately started work cleaning up the dying stray. The pooch was covered in the thick tar and rescuers didn’t know how long the dog had been suffering. They could only hope that the substance hadn’t caused lasting damage to its victim.
However, even though Zoonosis Lanus had rescue experience, the volunteers had never seen a dog in such a condition before. What’s more, given the amount of tar covering the animal, it seemed likely that their rescue efforts would fail. Initially, if they were making any progress, it wasn’t noticeable.
Regardless, with a dog’s life at stake, the team pushed on, hoping for signs of improvement. What’s more, their patience was rewarded when the tar eventually began loosening. It was the sign they needed that their determination was paying off and their cleaning efforts were finally working.
As the bathtub became more stained, the stray got cleaner – and then something wonderful happened. The rescuers managed to break through the tar and saw a patch of brown fur underneath it. For the first time since the dog arrived, they finally knew what his natural color was.
Over time, the real dog underneath the tar revealed its thick exterior and the volunteers began to hope that their rescue efforts would be successful. It took five hours of laborious washing, but no one could argue that it wasn’t worth the effort. Indeed, by the time they’d finished, Zoonosis Lanus were left with a beautiful dog.
“We managed to clean 80 percent [of the dog],” the group announced on its Facebook page. “Tomorrow we will continue with the same method and … decrease the toxicity.” The dog was also given another wash the following day to remove the rest of the tar.
“He was given the medication indicated by the [vets], eye drops and [needed to] drink a lot of water,” the update continued. Finally, they gave the dog a name: Petro, which is Spanish for “petrol.” “We left him food, but at that moment he was already tired,” Zoonosis Lanus explained.
While Petro was recovering, news of the little animal’s ordeal spread far and wide. Indeed, his story went viral and Petro found himself becoming a popular dog. Thanks in part to media coverage, he subsequently received hundreds of offers for a forever home when he was better.
Consequently, it was only a matter of time before Petro found himself the ideal home. Indeed, he is now happy, healthy and part of a loving family with five other fur brothers and sisters. The name “Petro” proved less sticky than the dog himself, though.
To mark his new life as a beloved pet, his owner renamed the little dog “Roman.” One of his rescuers, Myriam Otellado, was happy to provide Facebook users with an update about Roman’s happily furever after. “And so we close the history of Roman (Ex Petro),” she wrote. “Love and pampering from now on. Thanks to all involved!”