Forever home sought for blind, rescued dog

Applications currently being accepted at the Red Deer SPCA

  • Jun. 18, 2014 4:06 p.m.

An eight-year-old collie/husky mixed breed that was rescued from a Central Alberta reserve as a stray and who recently underwent surgery to remove both of her eyes, is looking for her forever home.

Gem was rescued from the Maskwacis reserve and came to the Red Deer and District SPCA in severe pain.

“Despite this she was full of light and love and even had the support of concerned reserve residents who gave her food and water and finally made the call to our rescue for help. At eight-years-old she had obviously adapted to blindness from what appeared to be a severe eye condition that deteriorated over time,” said Amy Corpe, animal care manager at the Red Deer and District SPCA.

She added that Gem has been at the facility for just over five weeks. “I named her Gem because from the minute I met her on the reserve, I could tell that she had an impeccable temperament and personality. Though I was a stranger to her and she was living in a dark world, she instantly greeted me with tail wags, kisses and pure trust. Upon meeting her, I couldn’t help but think, wow, what a gem, and I knew that had to be her name. The name has stuck and she has even started to respond to it.”

She added that upon admittance into the shelter and through vet examination SPCA officials immediately found that she was fully blind and was in severe pain due to the condition of her eyes. “Our guess is that she had some kind of trauma to both eyes but we are not sure what the cause was,” said Corpe.

“We discussed euthanasia but as a no kill shelter we really try to do all we can to avoid this option. Instead we chose to surgically remove both eyes to alleviate her pain. In this case, the surgery was a life-saving operation.

“The primary reason that we opted to go ahead with surgery was because she has an amazing personality and had already adapted to life with no vision. We weren’t taking anything away from her, other than the pain” said Corpe.

Tara Hellewell, executive director at the Red Deer and District SPCA, said because the organization has an in-house vet, they are able to get a cost savings for procedures.

“It does give us the luxury to take some of these specialty cases whereas we never would have been able to do that otherwise. Gem had two surgeries and this is a good example of what we can do when we have the funding available,” she said. “This was definitely a team discussion and everyone had their say and there was some concern if this was the in the best interest of Gem and now everyone agrees this was absolutely the best decision for her.”

Gem has since had a full recovery and is doing extremely well. She has adapted to living in a shelter environment and officials are now looking to find her a forever home. “We strongly believe that within a few weeks of being in a new home, she will learn to adapt to that environment. She is a very intelligent dog and due to loss of vision, all of her other senses have been heightened,” said Corpe.

She added that Gem would be okay in a home with other pets but those pets need to be well socialized. “Gem is a senior and is low-energy. She isn’t the type that wants to play with other animals but we believe that in time, she may form a bond with another dog or other pet. We’re looking for a quiet, calm, retirement home for her with no children under the age of 10,” said Corpe.

She added that Gem’s favourite activity is to lay in the sun, sprawled out on the grass. “She would also be content to just lay in a dog bed by your feet while you watch TV. She just wants to be around people.”

Those interested in adopting Gem will have to go through an application process.

“This is not something we typically do with adoptions but I would like to do a trial adoption. We want to be a support to the adoptive family because of her special needs. We want to put her in the home and let her be there for a couple of weeks so that she can adjust to the environment, and the family can adjust to having a new special needs dog in their home.

“And then they can continue to keep in touch so we can help with the transition,” said Corpe. “Once the family, myself and Gem feel that it’s still going great, then we will facilitate the adoption but we still want to stay in touch and act as a support to the family.”

In addition, the SPCA has a major fundraiser coming up – Bark At The Bend takes place June 28th.

Red Deerians are encouraged to take part in the event. Funds raised will go towards supporting veterinary care at the Red Deer and District SPCA. The goal is to raise $20,000.


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