A collie left for dead on the side of Mitchell Road near the Highway 99 onramp is doing much better thanks to the efforts of Ceres resident Nicole Kisela who rescued the abused dog and Valley veterinarians.
Kisela takes care of pets through the Pupz n Palz rescue in Modesto and heard about the emaciated and wounded dog hobbling on a Mitchell Road island near Highway 99 early July 20.
The dog's plight and story of his rescue has tugged on heartstrings worldwide.
The male dog -named Mitchell after the road where he was spotted - was suffering from dehydration, inhumane treatment and severe neglect. A short leash was embedded in his neck, hidden by the matted fur, and dozens of infected wounds - possibly from a wild animal or other dogs -were infested by maggots. Mitchell also suffered from a high temperature, tooth decay and cataracts.
"He was barely alive," noted Kisela. "He was like pretty much something dead walking. It seemed like no life to him. The condition he was in was just terrible. That's the worst I've ever seen in my life."
Thanks to extensive treatment in Ceres, Turlock and Davis, the dog was released to Nicole's care last week.
"He's got surgeries ahead of him but, time being, he's stable enough to come home for a little bit," said Kisela, who will foster the dog.
The veterinarian initially treating the dog, Dr. Amanpreet Basra of American Pet Clinic in Ceres, said it was the worst case he's ever seen of maggot infestation even though the maggots probably saved his life as they help with infection.
"I honestly don't know how this dog was still standing let alone running in and out of traffic getting into the freeway," said Kisela.
"I feel like he was dumped because there was really nothing around the area. I thought he was a bait dog but I can't say that. There's somebody who knows something. It could have been a coyote because of the bite wounds and scratches."
Dog-baiting is the setting of game dogs against a chained or confined animal for sport. The dogs bite and tear to subdue the opposing animal by incapacitating or killing it. The practice is illegal.
Since his rescue from the street, Mitchell has been undergoing extensive treatment at U.C. Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Davis. Skin grafts may be necessary if healing does not take place on its own.
Nicole has been posting the progress of the dog on Facebook on the Mitchells Fight page.
"I've seen comments from all over the world who've been following Mitchell's story," she said. Followers are from all over the globe, including Italy, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Poland and England. Some have donated money to his care through PayPal and GoFundMe.
Nicole's sister, Jessica Larkin, first spotted the collie travelling onto the southbound Mitchell onramp of 99. She then called their mom, Sue Furtow of Ceres, who relayed the information to Nicole. She roused herself from sleep, put on some clothes and who drove to the site. After considerable searching in the dark, she found the collie, parked the car and loaded him up.
"I noticed the smell. He had a really bad death smell and I saw he was really, really matted but really didn't see any maggots or anything. I didn't see any open holes but I wasn't assessing his body on the side of the road."
Upon closer examination, the dog was suffering from major wounds which were maggot infested.
That morning Nicole took the dog to American Pet Clinic where he was given intravenous solutions and shaved. It was then that the extent of his injuries were revealed. Nicole talked to Karri Husman of Pupz n Palz about Mitchell and agreed to take on the expensive medical case. The dog spent some time at Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital in Turlock before being transported to Davis.
Nicole believes Mitchell is about two or three years old but isn't sure because of his condition.
"At first everybody thought he was a lot older because of the way he was acting. He was acting like an old man but now he's like a puppy. It's hard to tell right now because his teeth are so terrible. That's how they normally age a dog, by his teeth."
Medical bills may climb past $10,000 with many contributions pouring in from dog lovers as well as from Pupz n Palz. A GoFundMe account was abandoned, she said, because of the high percentage they take. Money is also being raised through T-shirt and sweater sales. A special fundraiser will take place from noon to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10 at the Round Table Pizza parlor at 2401 E. Orangeburg Avenue in Modesto. The restaurant will donate 20 percent of the proceeds to Pupz n Palz when a flyer from the Facebook page is presented at time of ordering.
Nicole said she plans to foster out Mitchell through Pupz n Palz.
"He's pretty much with me until he gets adopted. I'll probably be the one really looking at the applications."