Our weekly feeding rounds are hardly anything but routine, and this feeding round was no different. This time, it was an injured, limping dog which turned our feeding round into a rescue frenzy. 

Lying in a deep drain
When we first noticed her limping, we tried to get closer to check her injuries but she ran from us and jumped into a deep drain to hide. She lay in the drain with her eyes closed. We used a torch to shine but she didn’t even respond to the light. She looked weak and we knew we just had to get her to the vet asap. 

Photo of Pumpkin taken half a year ago

This girl is no stranger to us. We have been feeding her for the past 4 years and call her the TVT girl. TVT is a form of sexually transmitted tumour in dogs which can be malignant  She is a small-sized dog, and very wary of humans. Even though we had been feeding her for so long, she never once let us near. We had to leave the food behind and walk away before she would come out to eat. 2 years ago, she contracted TVT. Her vulva was swollen and bleeding. We could not trap her to help her, so we could only monitor her helplessly. We expected her to get weaker from the disease, hoping that we could get her to help before it killed her. Miraculously, she recovered from it all on her own after almost 6 months. 

Volunteer Val and a worker in the drain, trying to use a long plastic pipe to prod her out
This night, watching her hide out in the drain, we just knew we had to get her. So a rescue team of 4 of HOPE’s volunteers and 3 Bangladeshi workers was formed. We tried to block both ends of the drain, but fear had her rushing past us into a connecting drain which ran under the road. The drain was filled with dirty water that was higher than ankle height. It was dank and dark, and narrow that only a dog can stand in. A petite human would have to lie on their belly to leopard crawl into the space.

The amazing rescue team, after 5 hours and a precious life saved!
(Volunteers : Lemond (shirtless), the hero who crawled into the drain tunnel, Val & Jozelle on the far right. Pumpkin in the cage on the left)

Again, we blocked off both sides of the drain. With our torch, we could see her nestled right in the middle of the drain. We could not get in so the workers found us some long plastic pipes to push into the drain, hoping that we could prod her into coming out. However, the pipes were not long enough to reach her. 
We tried various methods for the next 4 hours but to no avail. At this point, we were at our wit’s end. If we did not get her out soon, we didn’t know when she would come out on her own, or if she would even be able to come out at all before she succumbed to whatever injuries she had. Lemond, one of our male volunteers, offered to risk getting bitten and leopard crawl into the drain. We were worried that Lemond would get stuck in the narrow space, or suffocate due to the lack of oxygen in the tunnel, but he insisted that he just had to try.

Using a net to block the drain tunnel, with volunteer Lemond crawling in from the other end with a plastic pipe to prod her out

We then blocked off one end of the drain with a net and had 1 volunteer and 1 worker stand quietly in wait, while Lemond went in the opposite side with a pipe to push her towards the netted entrance. After crawling and pushing for 20 minutes under the road, she finally came out the other side and we quickly pinned her down with the net. A crowd had gathered to watch the rescue mission and everyone, including the workers, were elated that we had finally got her. 

At the vet, cold, scared and trembling, Pumpkin was feeling terribly sorry for herself

Bleeding badly from 2 missing toes; possibly from a machinery accident
At just 6 years old, life has been so hard that she has hardly any teeth left, which is why her tongue sticks out

We rushed her to the vet at 4am. Emergency consultations are expensive, but we had little choice as we could smell the rotting flesh in the van and we knew she would have maggots which would need to be extracted.

We finally got a good look at her at the vet. She was a small girl, estimated to be 5 to 6 years old. She was wet and shivering, probably both from fear and the cold. 2 of her toes were missing from her left front paw and the bones were showing through. We do not know how she might have lost her toes as she did not show any signs of being in an accident, no signs of impact or abrasions from being dragged. She also had 5 huge puncture wounds which were filled with maggots. The vet thinks the maggot wounds are about 3 to 5 days old and we did not see any obvious wounds when we fed her last weekend. She must have gotten attacked by dogs in the last week and received the puncture wounds, which then festered quickly in the dirty environment these strays live in. Pumpkin is a loner, she wanders on the streets and doesn’t belong to any factory. She doesn’t have a home, she doesn’t have doggy friends.In fact, when she sees dogs approaching, she often hides in the drains and hope they don’t see her or pick on her. 

Her maggot wounds were deep 
Maggots had burrowed into her flesh and made new small holes on her
More maggot wounds 

This is the sad reality of the life of our street dog. They only get saved when they already have 1 paw in the grave. Besides her injuries, the vet said she hardly has any teeth left! She must have been surviving on stones which wore her teeth down. This is hardly new to us as we have picked up many other dogs who showed the same signs of worn and broken teeth and stones in stomach. 

Toes missing and her bone revealed
Poor Pumpkin, looking worried and confused
Injured under the paw as well 
After 6 years of life on the streets, full of whatever challenges and horrors that we may never know, she is finally safe. She was mildly sedated and her wounds were cleaned but she is not out of the woods yet as the danger of septic shock is still very real. No longer the TVT girl, we now call her Pumpkin (organic of course).

We need help with Pumpkin’s vet bills, and will also need a foster home for her to recover and rehabilitate in once she is discharged. If you can help contribute towards her vet bills or can foster Pumpkin, email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg. Pumpkin has overcome all odds to be saved, now we hope someone will give her the chance to see that there is a good life beyond the pain and hardship of the streets.