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Suffering dog with mouth duct-taped in 'homemade muzzle' surrendered to B.C. SPCA

A dog surrendered to the B.C. SPCA on June 3, 2024 had an injured tail and was wearing a makeshift muzzle made with duct tape. (Handout) A dog surrendered to the B.C. SPCA on June 3, 2024 had an injured tail and was wearing a makeshift muzzle made with duct tape. (Handout)
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The B.C. SPCA is caring for a young dog who was surrendered last week with her tail severely injured and her mouth duct-taped shut in a "homemade muzzle."

The animal welfare charity said the dog – who was given the name "Jade" by staff – was turned over on June 3 because her owner couldn't afford proper veterinary care.

Shannon Paille, manager of the SPCA's Kelowna branch, said there were injuries to approximately 80 per cent of the dog's tail, which ultimately had to be amputated.

"We don't even know what the underlying cause of the damage to her tail was because it was just so damaged – there was exposed bone and tendon," Paille told CTV News.

"She probably caused most of that because she was uncomfortable, but the initial problem might have been quite simple to deal with."

Authorities said Jade's owner put her into the makeshift muzzle to prevent her from licking or biting her wounded tail, and used a sock to protect her snout from the duct tape – but the SPCA stressed that doing so was still ill-advised.

In a statement, senior protection officer Eileen Drever said homemade muzzles should "never be used for any reason."

"In this situation, a dog collar cone is the only suitable option to prevent the dog from licking or biting their tail. Muzzles are solely meant to prevent scavenging for food or other objects from the ground or from biting," Drever said.

Humane muzzles are made of rubber, plastic or metal, and allow dogs to drink water or pant to cool down while wearing them – and even then they should only be used for "short periods," according to the animal charity.

Given Jade's condition when she was surrendered earlier this month, the B.C. SPCA considered launching a cruelty investigation against her owner, who lives in Vernon.

After a preliminary review of the circumstances and an interview with the owner, however, Paille said the SPCA ultimately decided to take an educational approach.

"The general takeaway was this was an isolated, albeit misguided attempt at helping a dog that the owner loved to prevent her from doing more damage to her tail," Paille said.

"Obviously she needed to come into care because somebody needed to deal with the tail, and it's been amputated, and the owner was provided the education piece to go along with that."

Authorities urged any pet owners who cannot afford veterinary treatment to reach out for help before comparably minor health conditions turn into much more serious problems.

The SPCA said Jade will not be returned to her former owner once she has healed, and will instead be put up for adoption.

"For anybody who's familiar with German shepherds, she's pretty typical – she's smart, she's active, she's motivated to learn, and she really likes being with people," Paille said.

"She's a lovely girl, and she's only two so she's going to make someone a fabulous companion."

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