Her previous owners denied any wrongdoing when dropping off Pixie.
When Pixie the 1-year-old Yorkie mix was brought to the Paws 2 Help animal clinic in Florida late last month, the staff that received her was unsure if she would survive. With an elastic hair band bound tightly on her snout, the staff could see that the band reached all the way down to her bone, causing severe infections.
Ever since she was dropped off, Pixie has been slowly recovering, both physically and emotionally. During her first few days at the clinic, she wouldn’t eat because it was painful and she was lethargic. However, within a few days she was eating whole jars of Gerber baby food and even started wagging her tail for her rescuers.
The two women that dropped her off at the clinic had conflicting stories about who bound her mouth shut, but stated that it had only been on for about two days. Vets surmised that because the gash was so deep, about 3/4 of an inch into her little snout, the elastic band was likely on for much longer than two days.
“The stories went on and on and over and over and changed. Nothing added up,” said Eve Van Engel, the clinic’s founder. “The young one said, ‘Well, we think a neighbor kept complaining about the dog whining or crying or something, and so the neighbor came and put it on. It was all right when I walked it two days ago.'”
The two women also denied abusing the tiny dog and stated that the dog had been passed around the family during her short life because no one wanted her.
Poor Pixie’s wound was so gangrenous that Van Engel said that she smelled like horse manure when the women brought her in. It’s unclear when she last ate, as it’s difficult to tell if the elastic band had ever been removed once it was put on, and the staff hoped that Pixie wouldn’t develop sepsis so she could have a shot at living. Several weeks later and Pixie’s wounds are healing nicely and she’s learning to love the people who brought her back from the brink of death—maybe a little too much. In a Facebook update about Pixie just last week, Van Engel said,
“She has major separation anxiety, which we are working on….We want to ensure that she won’t be left again or shipped from home to home… We are so happy that she has made such progress recently, we know she will be able to overcome her fear of being left alone!”
Her recovery wasn’t easy, and included surgery to remove necrotic tissues from her healing snout as well as antibiotics and pain medication. For a time, she was in the care of Animal Care and Control because they needed to keep her during their investigation, but Paws 2 Help insists that she is in good hands whether she’s with them or Animal Care and that it will help bring justice to her abusers.
This isn’t the first case to go viral in the U.S. about a dog whose mouth was bound shut. In 2015, photos of a Labrador whose mouth was bound tightly with dog tape after he wouldn’t stop barking sparked outrage and resulted in the owner being sentenced to five years in prison. Unfortunately, cases like this happen much more often than people hear about.
Pixie is in good spirits and her infections have cleared up, but she still won’t be available for adoption until more information has been gathered for the case against her previous owners. For the time being, she’s hanging out with her rescuers and learning to love instead of fear humans.