Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Horror story, happy ending

Volunteers rally to save life of German shepherd from reserve maimed in cruel, vicious attack

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Children's bedtime stories are true, there really are monsters in the world and they don't live under your bed. At least that's how Barb Nemshon from Manitoba German Shepherd Rescue sees it. After you read about Tiber, a German Shepherd cross, you'll likely agree with her.

Few things shock people who regularly deal with animal abuse. There seems to be no end to the way humans mistreat animals. Tiber's ordeal brought tears to my eyes.

Tiber was noticed walking around Norway House with a huge open wound on his back. It was later discovered to be a burn. According to Nemshon, the burn may have been caused by battery acid -- a particularly corrosive substance that creates very dangerous and painful injuries. Nemshon explained that once she saw Tiber in person the wounds were even more extensive than what she'd expected. "The damage was beyond horrific," she added.

Pictures of Tiber were posted on Facebook in mid-March. Many caring individuals were trying to discover whether he was owned or a stray. Nemshon could only help once he was found, and so a team of caring people in Norway House organized a search party.

Tiber did have an owner. After Nemshon spoke with her, she realized that she loved her dog. Before the injury, she didn't want to tie Tiber up but she no fence. Tiber would wander. While she realized not everyone loved him, she could not fathom anyone burning a dog simply because it wasn't welcome.

The owner was worried about her dog. She had heard something had happened to him. With no veterinarian in town, there were few options for treatment. Some had suggested putting Tiber out of his misery. The owner didn't know what to do.

Nemshon talked the woman into allowing the animal to be taken to Winnipeg for treatment. "It was difficult for her to let him go to someone she had never met, but she agreed," Nemshon said.

Volunteers pooled their money to pay for a plane ticket to get Tiber to a volunteer from MGSR. The representative then met Nemshon at Catrysse Veterinary Services. "Our wonderful vet carried Tiber from the vehicle into the clinic cradled in his arms... I was stunned by what I saw," explained Nemshon. Despite fear and pain, Tiber still wagged his tail. We were "undone by that simple forgiving wag," she added.

The original Facebook picture didn't show how large the wound actually was. It was not only located on the top of Tiber's back, it extended under his skin on both sides. The number of stitches required to fix the internal damage looked like a "roadmap," according to Dr. Noel Catrysse.

Nemchon was amazed by Catrysse. He and his staff worked for hours to try to save the dog. When an animal is in pain, it's sometimes difficult to know the right thing to do. This is especially true when you're unsure if the patient will recover. When Nemshon saw Tiber in person, she didn't have much hope that the dog would survive. "Dr. Catrysse's confidence and knowledgeable dedication to help this poor dog allowed me to hope," she said.

To cover the wound, Tiber's remaining healthy skin had to be gradually stretched. He's now on pain medication, taking antibiotics and wearing a jacket to keep the area from becoming infected. His prognosis is good. He's now in a foster home recovering from an incredible act of cruelty thanks to the work of many wonderful people who just wouldn't give up.

Stories like Tiber's are inspiring not just because there is a happy ending, but because so many people gave of their time, money and their hearts. There was no guarantee that people searching for Tiber would find him. Those who spent hours on the phone arranging help and money for the flights weren't sure their plan would work. And those who cleared a veterinarian's schedule and assisted with the surgery weren't guaranteed Tiber would live. But they had to try.

Nemchon was impressed with how everyone came together. She asked me to thank so many people. I wish I could comply with her wish, but there isn't room in this column.

For every one monster that lives in this world there are hundreds of people who quietly care, give of their time and jump in to help. In kid stories, these people are usually the heroes. They slay the monsters to save the day. In real life they're called volunteers. And they saved Tiber's life.

For further information:

www.facebook.com/ManitobaGermanShepherdRescue

Tiber's continued recovery can be seen on: www.facebook.com/TibersStory

Also, there is a fund to help with some of the costs of Tiber's surgery. If you'd like to donate, call Catrysse Veterinary Services at (204) 489-9111, or mail a cheque to Catrysse Veterinary Services, 3234 Portage Ave., Winnipeg MB, R3K 0Y9 with the notation Tiber.

In the pet community:

You're invited to the Manitoba Prairie Quilters biannual Quilt Reflections 2012 show April 13-15 at Canad Inns Polo Park. There will be a silent auction of animal-themed wall quilts with proceeds going to the Winnipeg Humane Society. There will also be a merchant mall, demos, choice auction, and large collection of competition and show quilts.

Daily admission $5. For further information log onto: www.manitobaprairiequilters.org

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2012 D5

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