A 14-year-old terrier named Rascal was covered in 100,000 fleas and on the brink of death when he was dropped off at an SPCA in British Columbia, Canada, last week.
At first, it looked like the dog was covered in dirt, according to CTV News — but it quickly became apparent that Rascal was dotted with fleas all over his body.
He was then taken to the Island Veterinarian Hospital in a state of critical distress.
When Rascal — who had lost over 85 percent of his red blood cells — was given a shower, water with a dark copper color dripped from his body.
Never miss a local story.
That was a bad sign for Ken Langelier, a veterinarian at the Island Veterinarian Hospital.
“When the fleas drink the blood and they go to the bathroom, they’re basically excreting digested blood,” Langelier said to CTV Vancouver Island. “Basically you’re seeing a sea of blood.”
When the SPCA dropped Rascal off, they gave the hospital two options: euthanize the pup or give it an emergency blood transfusion.
Langelier was not going to give up.
“I looked at this dog and said, ‘You’re not dying on my watch, baby,’” he said.
Rascal underwent a four-hour procedure, receiving 400 millilitres of blood from a hospital employee’s German shepherd that was a universal blood donor. The terrier also received many baths, eventually being deemed free of fleas.
Animal cruelty experts at the SPCA are now trying to determine where Rascal came from and who owned him. It’s likely the pup had fleas for a long period of time, according to Tina Heary, a special provincial constable for the British Columbia SPCA who said the case was preventable.
“Flea infestations aren’t something just to take lightly,” she said.
It was “the most fleas I’ve seen and I’ve been in practice for almost 40 years,” Langelier said.
Rascal, who is expected to make a full recovery, had the costs of his transfusion paid by the hospital, according to the Surrey Now-Leader.
The next stop for Rascal? Adoption.