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UC Davis

Kabang, who lost her upper muzzle while saving two girls in the Philippines, must be treated for heartworm disease and a tumor before getting care for her severe wound.

Kabang, the snoutless dog, goes home to the Philippines

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014 - 10:35 am

Kabang, the snoutless Filipino street dog, will be going home Thursday.

Veterinarians at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis officially released her Monday for her return to the Philippines.

Kabang – Tagalog for "spotted" – has come a long way from the accident that disfigured her face 1 1/2 years ago.

Watch a video of Kabang.

In December 2011, the 2-year-old German shepherd/Japanese spitz mix lost the upper part of her jaw and nose when she lunged at a speeding motorcycle to prevent it from running down two young girls on a street in Zamboanga City, Philippines.

After the accident, she disappeared for two weeks before returning to the home of her owner, Rudy Bunggal, who had adopted her when she was a few weeks old.

Anton Mari Lim, Kabang's veterinarian in the Philippines, said the dog had arrived at his clinic with pus in the open facial wound and her left eye almost popping out, but apparently did not suffer any pain.

"She was still joyful, as she is now," he recalled. He put sutures on the eyelid, but could do little more than give her antibiotics.

"I'm just amazed that she survived," he said.

In February 2012, Karen Kengott, a critical-care nurse in Buffalo, N.Y., learned of Kabang's plight on the Internet and decided to raise funds to get the dog treated at UC Davis. She created a website,, as well as Facebook and Twitter pages.

Donations from 45 countries poured in, some as little as 44 cents, according to Kengott, who had set a fundraising goal of $20,000, which was reached Sept. 14.

Accompanied by Lim, Kabang arrived in Davis on Oct. 9. A preliminary exam showed Kabang suffered a heartworm infection as well as a tumor the size of a golf ball in her vulva.

She underwent six chemotherapy sessions to treat the tumor, which has disappeared, and enforced bed rest for heartworm treatment. She was also spayed and microchipped.

"She came through with flying colors," said Gina Davis, head of outpatient service at the animal hospital.

On Monday, Kabang was in high spirits, playing with a yellow dog squeaky toy that Dawn Gillette gave her. Gillette is owner of All Species Animal Care and has been Kabang's caretaker since October.

Although she is still missing her upper jaw, the dog managed to catch the toy between her lower jaw and two upper molars.

She also had no trouble eating a piece of jerky or pieces of a Kings Hawaiian roll that Gillette would occasionally feed her. The dog let her tongue grab the item before tossing it back into her throat.

"She's not a pretty dog, but she is a happy dog," said Frank Verstraete, chief of the dentistry and oral surgery service at the hospital.

Boaz Arzi, a veterinarian and surgeon with the dentistry and oral surgery service, said the UC Davis team decided against a face transplant or reconstruction.

"We opted for comfort and functionality," he said, adding that the other procedures would have required long-term aftercare.

A three-dimensional model of Kabang's skull was created to better envision what needed to be done. The surgery was challenging in that "it was unique in that we had no upper jaw at all," said Arzi.

On March 5, two upper molars were removed because they were infected and could have affected the dog's brain. Her left eyelid also was reconstructed.

During the nearly five-hour surgery March 27, skin from the side and top of her head was used to repair the wound to her face, and stents were used to create two nostrils.

"We were able to treat all the complications that arose with the best specialists available," said Verstraete.

Kabang was given all her immunization shots on May 20 and medically cleared for transport back to the Philippines.

Once home, she will need her face cleaned daily.

Davis, the head of outpatient services, presented a going-away basket to Kabang on Monday. It contained a bag of Pupperoni treats, a bag of Blue Nature jerky, a Mr. Bill toy, a fox squeaky toy and boxes of medicine to treat heartworm, fleas and ticks.

"I wish her a safe trip home," Davis said.

Kengott said Kabang's medical costs have topped $27,000 so far, with additional bills yet to be paid. However, she said the effort was worth it, and she hopes to send another $3,000 to $5,000 to cover Kabang's care in the Philippines.


Call The Bee's Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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