SPCA New Zealand

Meet Alex, a dog who defied the odds

16 November 2023

When SPCA Inspectors first met Alex in July, they were shocked by his emaciated condition. Weighing half of what he should and so weak he couldn’t stand or even lift his head, the odds were stacked against him. But this brave dog defied expectations and went on to make a truly incredible recovery. This is his story.

Meet Alex, a dog who defied the odds

The rescue

Back in July, our Christchurch SPCA team received a call about an emaciated dog who was reported to be so weak that he couldn’t even stand. Our Inspectors rushed to the address, and were shocked by what they found.

“I had never seen a dog so emaciated that they couldn’t stand or even lift their head. I could literally see every bone in his body,” SPCA Inspector Jeanee said.

His tail and rear legs were covered in his own waste, as he hadn’t been able to stand and move away to toilet.

The dog, now known as Alex, was rushed back to our SPCA Centre to be seen immediately by our onsite vet.

Alex was incredibly weak and found to be hypothermic. His body condition received the lowest possible score of zero. Weighing in at just 18kg, Alex was about half the weight he should’ve been for a dog of his size.

Inspector Jeanee told us that while they all held grave concerns for Alex, the look in his eyes and his response to his rescuers gave them some small hope.

“Throughout the ordeal, he would wag his tail whenever we talked to him. Even though he couldn’t stand, he would look at us and do a slow thumping tail wag,” Jeanee remembers. “It was incredible to see.”

While our vet teams focused on Alex’s recovery and rehabilitation, our Inspectorate underwent a thorough investigation into how this poor boy was able to get to such a terrible state.

Our investigation found that the owner of Alex was not at fault for his condition. Unfortunately, despite extensive enquires, liability was unable to be attached to any specific individual for what occurred.

The long road to recovery

Alex’s recovery was long and slow; this resilient boy required after-hours care, and a great deal of specialised physio to help him recover from his emaciated condition.

He didn’t like to be left alone, so he received plenty of love from the vet team. When no one could be with him for short periods of time, the nursing team would set up a laptop and play YouTube videos of squirrels for him to watch, which he loved!

Our team were pleased to see that Alex had a strong appetite, and were encouraged to watch him steadily gain weight and begin to transform.

When he was ready, Alex was able to spend time in foster care. This was critical to his recovery, allowing him to experience a loving home environment, and a quiet, safe place to recuperate.

Between his time at the Centre, and with his loving foster family who gently guided him back to health and happiness, Alex began to re-learn all the things that a dog should get to enjoy; from playing and going on walks, to snoozing and cuddling.

Along with his newfound social skills, Inspector Jeanee and the team were thrilled to see his weight gain as he reached a healthy 34kgs – almost double the size he was on that first day.

Four months on, Alex is completely unrecognisable from the dog on the brink of death that we first met.

On that first day, the look of life in Alex’s eyes spoke of a strength of spirit that defied the wasted body it lay within.

We hoped this boy would pull through his ordeal, and we are delighted to share that today, this boy is ready to be adopted. The team here at SPCA is thrilled that Alex’s ending is the happy one he deserves – but it wouldn’t have been without the generous support of the New Zealand public.

We’re so grateful to all of SPCA’s supporters across the country. Without donations received from generous animal lovers, SPCA wouldn’t be here to help so many neglected animals like Alex.

If you are able to make a donation to be their light in their darkest hour, please click on the button below.

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