Warning: Details and images in this story may be upsetting to some readers

A collective effort is underway in Saanich, B.C., to restore comfort to an eight-month-old puppy that was surrendered to the Victoria Humane Society after being badly burned.

“He’s our little miracle dog,” says the society’s executive director Penny Stone. “It’s been a real whirlwind trying to make sure that we’re doing the right thing for him.”

The Australian shepherd’s owner phoned the humane society after the animal suffered severe burns to a third of his body, unable to proceed with care for the pet.

“They’re really deep burns, meaning that the skin is missing,” says VCA Canada Central Veterinary Hospital’s critical care specialist, Dr. Manuel Boller. “It is thermal injuries so something really hot, likely water, was poured over the dog, I assume accidentally.”

The animal remains in intensive care at the Saanich veterinary hospital two weeks after his injury. Staff and the humane society are taking donations to help pay for the pet’s care – which conservative estimates peg at $20,000.

“This is a huge cost and rightfully so,” says Stone. “We will do whatever we need to do regardless but obviously donations are always welcome.”

The veterinary team says wound care is a top priority right now. They expect surgeries involving skin grafts will be needed later and they need to treat an acute kidney injury, which could be related to the burns.

“It’s really important for us to do things for the animals and not to the animals,” says Boller. “Even if it takes weeks, I think he’s not going to go through hell at this stage. So I think it’s a good investment. There’s no objective reason to stop treatment at this stage because he’s really progressing OK.”

The humane society says it also considers the animal’s suffering when proceeding with care – and the executive director says she’s been surprised by the animal’s strength.

“Hopefully we’re on the rebound and going uphill,” says Stone.

Her team is workshopping names for the animal, alongside the community – and thinks “Rebound” could be the perfect fit.

“I think he needs something a little magical. He’s a lovely boy. He deserves us to fight for him but we will only fight for him as long as he wants us to,” she says.