Belfast Telegraph

Mutilated, maggot-ridden and close to death... but just look at Oscar less than a month later

By Laura Abernethy

Just three weeks ago, Oscar the dog was mutilated, maggot-ridden and fighting for his life.

With help from the Doghouse Sanctuary and thousands of supporters - many of them Belfast Telegraph readers - he's getting stronger every day and now the £7,000 raised to care for him will be used to help other dogs.

And the money has been used to buy a new 'animal ambulance' that will help volunteers reach abandoned dogs and get them to a vet as quickly as possible.

Gillian McFadden, owner of the Sanctuary, found Oscar abandoned on a roadside outside Banbridge. He was covered in bite wounds and he was infested with thousands of maggots.

When they took him to a vet, he said it was the worst case of animal cruelty that he had seen in his whole career.

It is believed that the 11-month-old black puppy had been used as a bait dog in a fight.

Gillian said: "He was very seriously ill. The only way he could respond was by moving his eyes. He couldn't lift his head. His face was swollen like a rugby ball. It was horrendous."

Almost a month later, Oscar's wounds have healed and he has settled in well at the Doghouse Sanctuary.

Gillian explained: "He's doing really well. Every day he puts a little bit of weight on and gets a wee bit stronger. His wounds have healed. The vet is amazed. They thought he was going to have to have surgery but it's healed well so he's not going to need surgery."

Despite his ordeal, Oscar is a friendly and happy dog. "I was worried initially that when he got better he might be vicious but he's just remarkable. He's so nice and he's such a big softy", Gillian added.

Gillian has been inundated with messages of support for Oscar and over £7,000 has been donated to their Just Giving page.

"The response has been amazing. I know there are loads of animals needing help but Oscar, I think, just shocked so many people because of the condition he was in."

"It has already made such a difference. The kindness of people is amazing. The donations and that van are his legacy and this is going to be his way of helping the dogs who come after him. It's sad that it took something like this but it's a nice ending to a heartbreaking story."

With the help of a sponsorship deal with Donnelly group, they have bought a van that will be used as an animal ambulance when they are called out to rescue other animals.

Gillian explained: "The animal ambulance is so important because before we were using our family car. There was vomit, blood and everything over it and it just wasn't good for us, my kids or the animals.

"In the van, there's room in it and we can put crates in it to make it easier and more comfortable for the animals. I know that if there's an animal in need, I can just jump in and go. It's absolutely amazing. I think we've put the money to good use."

Oscar was malnourished and he still needs to gain weight and vets are still assessing what the long-term effects of the abuse will be.

He will remain at the sanctuary for the next few months and Gillian explained that they are considering if they can keep him forever.

"He'll be here for the foreseeable future. As every day goes by, it would be harder and harder for me to let him go. He's so attached and I'm so attached to him. He has full trust in me now."

To donate to Oscar and the other dogs at the Doghouse Sanctuary, visit

Belfast Telegraph


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