Flying Tails: Dogs doing better after suffering from mange


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — You never really know what you’re going to get when you fly off on a rescue mission. I was told there would be two dogs suffering from mange, something I knew very little about. On the ground in Porterville in Tulare County, it was quickly apparent that this nasty skin disease can cause great suffering.

A pit bull named Wally had a red rash showing through his white coat. A little terrier named JR was still in his crate and his injuries weren’t as clear. We loaded  them up at took off, aiming the plane back to the Bay Area where they would get treatment. A little puppy was also on the trip. He would be dropped off at his rescue along the way.

As we settled at our cruise altitude, Wally the pit bull seemed relaxed but little JR was scratching every time I turned around.

An hour or so later we’re on the ground in Petaluma where I was met by Shirley Zindler from Dogwood Animal Rescue Project of Sebastopol.

We tried to coax JE out of his crate. He yelped in pain. 

Even his buddy Wally seemed to want to help. We got our first good luck at the JR’s condition.

He looked awful. I don’t have a lot of experience with this. But it’s the worst mange I’ve ever seen.

Shirley Zindler responded, “It’s not the worst, the worst that we’ve seen.”

Indeed, poor little JR had scratched himself raw.

Zindler explained their situation: “The two dogs came to us with Sarcoptic mange. That’s the contagious type that other animals can get and it can actually cause a rash in people. We have to be very careful about handling and treating initially. “

Mites burrow into the dog’s skin, leading to incessant itching.

“The little one, JR, screamed all the way home,” Zindler explained. “I mean he just screamed in discomfort, pain, itchiness, scratching frantically til he bled. His skin was even too raw to bathe initially. So we started immediately the treatment to kill the mites and within a day or two and we also started some anti itch medication for his comfort and pain meds.”

But over time things got much better.

After a day or two Wally and JR were both able to tolerate baths. They still had to be isolated from the other dogs at the rescue.

“They’re both real cuddly dogs so they wanted to be close and we want to embrace them but we’re avoiding close contact. “

Once the pain and itchiness eased, Zindler says the dogs began to show their true personalities.

“Wally the pit bull was always, he loves everybody. He thinks the world’s a beautiful place it was just pretty itchy for awhile. They are doing fabulous. They basically look perfect. JR has,  you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. He’s got a beautiful coat of hair. He’s lovely. Wally’s got just a little bit of scarring visible over his back, which considering he’s white and short hair you’re gonna see that a little more. They feel great. “

They’re now both with new families who adopted them and pamper and care for them the way they deserve to be.

And despite their rough start, Zindler says the previous owners did the right thing.

“There’s no deliberate harm meant to these dogs. Their owners actually cared for them very much but they have no money. I mean, no money to seek even veterinary treatment. They reached out for rescue. They wanted help and that’s what we offered and they were aware they weren’t able to care for these dogs and.. they wanted what was best for the dogs and realized they couldn’t offer that.”

Two more dogs who have new homes. Two more families with new companions. Two fewer dogs left suffering.

But more are out there and that means more flights to come.

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