One fall afternoon we decided to go for a bike ride through a rural Florida park in our hometown. We had just started riding to the bike trail and spotted an animal. At first it was not a surprise; these particular woods were well known for wild pigs, coyotes and bobcats. Upon second glance, we realized it was a tiny puppy.
With oncoming traffic, we immediately stopped to ensure the puppy was safe. She hesitantly allowed us to approach her, and once we were able to take a closer look, we knew something was terribly wrong. The puppy was covered in red bumps, scabs and had almost no fur. She was extremely weak and looked like she was starving.
Our initial thought was that she may have wandered away from her family at the park or she had escaped from her home. She had no collar or tag. We could not tell how long she had been in the woods, but it was obvious that she was hungry, very scared, and extremely sick. We checked with the park ranger and called the local shelters; no one had reported the missing dog. It became clear that the puppy was suffering from an untreated condition, and someone had abandoned her to die in the woods. In her weak condition, she would have likely been attacked by a wild animal that night had we not found her.
We went for a bike ride but ended up with the saddest, yet luckiest dog in the world. Owning a veterinary hospital, we immediately transported the sick puppy for treatment. There were 3 scrapes on her body, which was indicative of a common skin test. It was apparent that her previous owner had taken her to a veterinarian but it was likely to be expensive and prohibitive to treat her skin at that stage.
Choosing to name the puppy “Orphan” Annie, we welcomed her to our family. It was a very difficult and long road to recovery for this poor puppy. Annie spent nearly 1 year living at the animal hospital with ongoing treatments for her skin condition and related complications. Her skin became so bad that she was completely covered in scabs and there were several times we almost lost her. With intense treatment and her sweet, loving spirit, she struggled to survive.
The most unfortunate part of Annie’s story was that she was only a few months old and was infected with a common skin disease that puppies contract from their mothers at birth. If Annie had seen a veterinarian for routine puppy care, her condition likely could have been controlled. Annie would not have suffered or been left to die in the woods had her owners been able to properly care for her. It is likely that prohibitive costs of treatment contributed to the reason for her abandonment.
Today Annie is an energetic, happy and healthy dog, with a thick coat of beautiful white fur. She loves people, craves attention, and her tail is always wagging. Annie is an inspiration for perseverance in life and certainly provides the passion behind Essentials PetCare. No animal should ever suffer because basic veterinary care is too expensive. It is the mission of Essentials PetCare to ensure all pet owning families can afford quality health care at an affordable price.
Douglas Spiker, DVM & Christine Battista, MS
Founders of Essentials PetCare