A woman who has dedicated her life to helping defenceless animals is appealing for help footing the bill for one of her rescued dogs.
Eric, an English bull terrier, has more than 50 lead pellets embedded underneath in his skin, some of which are even lodged in his bone, from being blasted in the face with a shotgun at point-blank range.
The attack happened in Turkey prior to March 2015, when his current owner Liz Haslam began the long process of adopting him.
Liz, who runs the Beds for Bullies dog rehoming centre in Barnham, only discovered the pellets after she took him to Swayne & Partners veterinary practice in Bury St Edmunds when the inside of his mouth swelled up.
The 48-year-old thought he had an abscess, but when the vets carried out an X-ray they were horrified to discover the pellets.
Eric is almost blind and it is thought this was probably caused by the blast.
On further inspection of the swelling it was discovered half a tooth from another dog had become lodged in Eric’s mouth.
This suggests the dog, thought to be around six years old, was involved in dog fighting before he was rescued.
Liz said: “His life in Turkey must have been truly horrific, I try not to think about it.
“He must have taken the full blast by the way the pellets have hit his face.
“It is a wonder it didn’t kill him straight away or he didn’t die from septicaemia from the filthy conditions he was living in.
“It breaks my heart to think what he’s been through but I can’t allow that to tug on my heart strings because I have to get on with looking after him.
“If I did I would live in the past and I have to move forward. Sometimes I sit up awake at one or two or three o’clock in the morning and it concerns me but I have to put it in a box at the back of my mind and get on with looking after my dogs.”
Liz has cared for animals all of her life and currently looks after 14 other rescued English bull terriers, all of which have health or behavioural issues.
The mother-of-one first learnt about Eric in March 2015 when a friend contacted her to tell her about him.
Determined to give him a good home she raised the £2,500 she needed to get all his jabs and bring him to the UK.
Eric was due to arrive in July 2015 but immigration services made an error on his forms delaying the move until September of that year.
Since arriving she has given him the best possible quality of life but says his sight has deteriorated to almost ‘complete’ blindness.
After the vets discovered the pellets last week they said nothing could be done to remove them because the operation would be too extensive. But they were able to remove the tooth which cost Liz £698.
This has been added to her existing vets’ bill which has come to £4,092.
Liz’s only form of income is from her kennels, Can I Wag Your Tail, and she is struggling to foot the bill.
She said: “All of my dogs have got issues and they are all rescue dogs.
“I live for my dogs and do everything I can for them. To enable to me continue what I do I need somebody to help me along the way with some funds.
“All the money is spent on them and I don’t get a penny. I’m happy for people to donate to the vets directly so they can be sure where the money is going.”
To find out more about Beds for Bullies Rescue, or to donate, visit www.bedsforbullies.co.uk.
Swain & Partners can be contacted on 01284 701444.