Betty Boo, A Life Lived Better

Betty Boo is one of hundreds of dogs we support in the southwest of Turkey.

Her life was hard before her rescuer found her.

We don’t know why Betty Boo has no ears. In her country the hideous practice of ear cropping is common among dogs used to guard sheep, dog fighting rings and people who don’t know better. We have had reports of young children cutting off the ears of young pups with scissors for no other reason than they can.

Ear cropping is illegal but catching perpetrators red handed is hard because nobody owns these dogs with the exception of shepherds. More often than not the dogs have been discarded and dumped on the streets before the abuse is noticed. When they are caught the justice system is lenient with offenders getting very small fines.

Credit Bengu Lander

Dogs like Betty Boo live the worst possible lives on the streets. Like the mama dog in the picture above they are stuck in a never ending cycle of being bothered by boy dogs, pregnancy & nursing.

When pregnant the dog will need more food than normal. Finding food is always a huge challenge to a homeless dog. Some are fortunate enough to have kind humans in their area who will visit with food regularly. In our experience in Turkey most will visit every two to three days, some every day. Other dogs are not as fortunate. They rifle through bins for scraps and beg on the streets. Most are malnourished even before their pregnancy begins.

Credit Boris Dimitrov

Sadly many humans view homeless dogs as pests, some refer to them as vermin. So, the sight of a heavily pregnant dog is most unwelcome to these people. Pregnant dogs are at risk of poisoning, shooting & beating to death.

Life becomes even more difficult once the puppies come. Delivery is hazardous. Complications can occur resulting in mother and puppies losing their lives.

Mum will find a suitable place to give birth & make a den. We have seen pregnant dogs carving out dens in refuse on rubbish tips, giving birth to their pups on old carrier bags surrounded by human detritus. Most will dig an earth such as the one shown above or find cracks & crevices in man made structures to hide away safely.

Once the pups are born mum needs to have enough milk to provide for the puppies which means frequent trips away from the pups to find food. If she doesn’t eat her milk will dry up and the puppies will die.

While she is away she runs the risk of coming to harm from traffic as well as the human harassment we have already mentioned. If she does not return to the den the pups will die a slow death from lack of warmth & starvation.

There is another risk to the pups that is discussed infrequently. They are at risk of predation. Lots of dogs are so hungry on the streets that they will take unguarded puppies and eat them. Even when mum is in the den there is a risk of this happening. The mum dog will spend a good deal of her time protecting her puppies, even fighting off other dogs if she needs to. During these fights mum may sustain injuries which can be life threatening.

Mortality rates among litters are high on the streets. This year has been particularly bad in Turkey. In some regions up to 80%. We have seen mothers stay for long periods of time with their dead pups.

Female dogs will have some respite from this cycle of pregnancy & nursing but it won’t last long. Soon she will be bothered by male dogs, pregnant again & have another litter of puppies to look after.

Some street dogs have somebody looking out for them, but not all. Female dogs will most often have worm burdens, be affected by tick borne disease & mite infestation while they are carrying their pups & while nursing them.

Betty Boo is luckier than most. Her rescuer found her & took her in. Betty Boo has safety & food & people who care about her. She will never have puppies again.

We were heartbroken to discover a large fast growing mass in her abdomen, confirmed by our vet as mammary cancer. She also has liver lesions.

There is some comfort that she is at the shelter & not on the streets. Here she can be kept comfortable & receive the care & treatment she deserves. Her life may not have always been ideal but at the end she found what she deserved & her life became so much better.

Please keep her in your thoughts & support spay & neuter whenever you can to break the pregnancy / nursing cycle.

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