AVON LAKE — Quiet but alert, the male German shepherd’s bright, dark eyes kept taking in his surroundings.
Dubbed Rufus by his rescuers, he had been an estimated 30 to 40 pounds underweight, is missing part of his tail, and has a series of small scars on his hind legs believed to be caused by some kind of accelerant that dripped down from his hind quarters after it was first ignited on the animal’s backside.
“Someone set his rear end on fire,” Deborah Parker, owner of Vermilion’s St. Francis Animal Sanctuary, said Thursday of the animal, which she believes was a show dog at some point in his young life.
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Also, a piece of one of the dog’s ears appears to have been cut out.
“The ear is typically tattooed for showing and breeding purposes,” Parker said. “The portion of the ear where that is done was cut out so he couldn’t be identified.”
Whether the dog’s ear was cut to remove an ID tattoo is the focus of some debate, Krupka said.
Parker rescued Rufus from Georgia after first becoming aware of the dog’s plight by email.
“They picked him as a stray in a dog pound that was going to euthanize him,” Parker said. “He had some teeth broken off. He had been on his own for a while.”
Fortunately for Rufus, instead he eventually wound up in Parker’s care.
The dog is being cared for by the staff of Avon Lake Animal Clinic.
Veterinarian Frank Krupka said the dog is believed to be 3 or 4 years old and is in fairly good shape overall, given the ordeal he has been through.
The animal’s malnourished state, coupled with his partially burned tail and burn scars clearly leads Krupka to believe the dog’s condition is a case of cruelty, not neglect.
“Whatever happened to him was very traumatic,” Krupka said.
Thanks to a diet designed to restore his health and boost his weight — which now stands around 75 pounds — and a regiment of antibiotics for parasites and other ailments, Rufus should make a full recovery.
“He’s a beautiful specimen of a shepherd,” Krupka said. “We believe he’s purebred. He should be 100 pounds. He’ll be a big boy.”
Set to undergo surgery today to amputate a portion of his mangled tail, he will continue his recovery at the clinic before he’s ready to go to a good home.
“He’s very happy and personable,” Krupka said. “He’s not scared whatsoever. Considering what he’s been through, he’s very eager to be with people.”
Rufus should ideally go to a home that has experience with shepherds, Parker said.
“I’m going to be very picky about where he goes,” Parker said. “He’s been through enough.”
The dog’s medical bills aren’t exactly known at this point, but Parker and the veterinary clinic will accept donations for his care.
Donations may be made to Avon Lake Animal Clinic, 124 Miller Road, Avon Lake OH, 44012; or to St. Francis Animal Sanctuary at www.saintfrancisanimalsanctuary.org or St. Francis Animal Sanctuary, 12516 Cherry Road, Vermilion OH, 44089.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.