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SPCA sickened by cruelty to puppy -- Pit bull terrier found with crhonic skin disorder

Animal rescuers last night vowed to find the cruel dog breeders who allowed a pit bull terrier puppy to suffer an agonising skin disorder that will ultimately take its life.

Police and SPCA chiefs said it was the worse case of mange, officially known as demadex, they had ever come across on the Island and that, as a result, the bitch would have to be put to sleep.

The four-month-old puppy was found in Devonshire on Tuesday with a broken hind leg and no fur whatsoever, only scabs all over her body.

SPCA inspector Charles Whited said he was sickened by the treatment of the dog and the ignorance of its owners, who had failed to seek medical attention from a vet.

But he said the growing poor treatment of pit bull terriers on the Island caused him great concern and he said there were probably other dogs suffering the same intolerable pain and discomfort.

"Her skin disorder is so far advanced, it would be inhumane to try and treat her,'' said Mr. Whited. "She is suffering so much pain and her skin is so damaged and raw, there is nothing we can do. Her body is just one big scab.

"I don't know how anybody could sit back and watch an animal suffer in this way. What she has gone through does not bare thinking about.

"I promise that if we find out who did this they are going to burn for cruelty and for failing to seek medical care for their dog. They will face the courts and burn.'' Mr. Whited explained how mange was hereditary and often passed to unborn puppies by their mother. It can not be passed from dog to dog through contact only.

It is a condition whereby skin mites get under the skin, irritating the dog and causing it to itch and subsequently scratch.

It is not certain whether the disease can be cured, but it can be treated and the dogs can be made to feel more comfortable. But those left, such as this puppy, deteriorate very quickly and scratch at themselves until they have no fur left and only scabs in its place.

Both Police and the SPCA appealed for information about the owners of the dog last night and warned that there could be other animals in Bermuda suffering the same condition.

Mr. Whited added: "Unfortunately, this is another perfect example of how people who do not know what they are doing allow dogs to be bred with this chronic skin disorder.

"It's hereditary and the rest of this litter probably have it, too. It's disgusting that people have so little regard for their animals.

"The quality of pit bulls on this Island has gone back so far. People do not care, they just want to make money.'' Veterinary surgeon Andrew Madeiros, of Ettrick Animal Hospital in Warwick, said he was giving the owners of the dog until this morning to come forward, in case the puppy has been under-going some kind of medical care. However, he added that the chances of the dog ever getting better were slim.

The doctor said he had done everything possible to make her comfortable, but he did not want to put her through more misery than necessary, so would put her to sleep this morning, if nobody came forward.

Dr. Madeiros said: "This is the 20th case of mange I have seen this year and the fifth this week alone. It could be that some of the dogs I have seen this week are from the same litter.

"I am seeing more and more of this problem, and it is of great concern to me.

Three or four years ago, I would have only seen about 20 cases in a whole year.

"It is down to indiscriminate breeding and lack of medical attention, and I think we are going to see a lot more of it.

"I have been a vet for 15 years and this makes me feel frustrated, angry, upset, but not surprised -- that is the sad thing.

"This puppy has a lovely temperament and doesn't look malnourished. It is very sad it has been left to suffer like this. It did not need to happen.'' Police also revealed yesterday how two other pit bull terriers had been seized by the animal protection officer on Tuesday from a house in Curving Avenue, Pembroke.

They were removed from the address on suspicion that their owner was failing to provide proper medical attention. One of the dogs had sustained lacerations to the ear and face, as well as extensive wounding to one of its hind legs.

Both were taken to a vet and inquiries are continuing.

Anyone with information about any of the incidents should call Police on 295-0011, the SPCA on 236-7333 or 296-3158, or Crime Stoppers on 1-800-623-8471. Information will be treated in confidence.

Picture: Tony Cordeiro So cruel: Vets are preparing to put to sleep this four-month-old pit bull terrier puppy because of a chronic skin skin disease