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Owner and her cavapoo puppy suffer serious injuries after attack

A puppy survived a horror attack that left him with the worst injuries a leading vet has seen in 20 years.

Eight-month-old Rupert was seriously injured in the incident that also left owner Linda Kelley, from Dursley, Gloucestershire, with severe cuts.

It looked like the little cavapoo would have to be put to sleep due to the gaping wounds and damaged skin. But he was saved by a specialist team at Vale Referrals, part of My Family Vets, who had to manage his wounds for weeks.

In some cases, they had to put him under a general anaesthetic twice daily for several days to change vital dressings.

Now Linda and husband Neil are thrilled to have Rupert, who will still need further reconstructive surgery, back home after fearing he’d never pull through.

cavapoo wearing a cone

The attack, by a former racing greyhound, happened as Linda took Rupert on a walk near the family home. 

“A lady came up behind us and I asked if her dog was okay for Rupert to say hello to,” said Linda. “She said that was fine and the two of them touched noses.

“The next second he had Rupert in his mouth and had gone for the kill, shaking him like a rag doll from side to side.

“Rupert’s screams will live with me forever. I was trying to get him free and a man in a nearby house heard my screams for help and came running.

“He had a hammer he had been using to fit a carpet and managed to use the claw of it to prise the dog’s mouth open. I scooped Rupert up in my arms and a neighbour ran me to the vets.

“When I handed him over to the staff, I looked down and my coat was absolutely soaked in his blood. It was just horrific and when I asked if he was going to die, they said they just didn’t know.”

Linda had to go the hospital for treatment as her hand had been torn open and required numerous further appointments.

cavapoo in a blue jacket

Meanwhile the specialist team at Vale Referrals, based in Dursley, Gloucestershire, battled to save Rupert’s life.

“This is the worst case I’ve ever seen and there were several times when we had to ask ourselves if it was kinder to put Rupert to sleep,” said vet Richard Artingstall, a referral surgeon with a special interest in soft tissue and reconstructive surgery.

“There was a massive area of skin loss and damaged tissue. At one point we had to anaesthetise Rupert fully each time we changed the specialised dressings to control infection and get on top of tissue damage.

“It was so distressing for our team of vets and nurses we had to counsel them that things may get worse before they got better. We also had to be very honest with the owners that he might not make it.

“Thankfully he did start to respond, and we were all ecstatic when he came through it. Everyone got so attached to Rupert and while we need to do some more work, we’re delighted to see he’s looking so well.” 

Vale Referrals advised that the other dog shouldn’t be put to sleep but be muzzled instead. And they liaised with the owner’s insurance to make sure all the bills were covered, and the Kelleys weren’t out of pocket.

“We are absolutely indebted to all of the team who worked on and looked after Rupert,” added Linda.

“We got regular calls to tell us what was happening, and I dreaded the phone ringing in case it was to tell me he was going to die.

“We’re just so grateful for all they did.”

fully healed cavapoo

Vale Referrals is part of My Family Vets, a nationwide network of veterinary practices and specialist hospitals.

Pets needing highly-specialised care, such as soft tissue surgery, oncology or surgery, are referred to Vale Referrals by their daytime vet.

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