Cathy Kautz is adopting Helen, who suffered from severe wounds. ‘Her personality is amazing. She is just happy and sweet as can be.’
For a little white “pit bull” mix rescued last month, life has gone from pain and hunger to happiness and love.
Helen’s face could have churned some of the strongest stomachs when she was found as an underweight stray five weeks ago in East Toledo. Her wounds oozed with infection, some skin had turned necrotic, and her face was so swollen her eyes were forced shut.
“The first pictures of her were absolutely horrendous,” said Jean Keating, executive director of the Lucas County Pit Crew, which took the 1½-year-old dog in after she was picked up by the Lucas County Canine Care & Control.
Cutie’s Fund, a special pool of money for dogs that come into the county shelter with high-cost medical needs, covered the dog’s initial care before she was transferred.
New, shiny, pink skin now covers much of Helen’s face. A few tufts of fur are trying to grow back, but most of it likely will never return.
“She healed remarkably quickly,” said Dr. Anne Bergstrom, who treated Helen for the Pit Crew at West Toledo Animal Hospital. “I’m very impressed with how well she’s done.”
The county shelter thought Helen’s injuries could have been dog bites, but Dr. Bergstom believes they were actually chemical burns.
She could not find any punctures once the swelling receded, and Helen healed slightly.
“It was definitely a burn of some sort,” she said. “What really caused it, we’ll never know.”
The burns are not likely from fire because Helen’s eyes are undamaged and there wasn’t any singed fur. The veterinarian said it appears that a caustic substance was somehow splashed or thrown in the dog’s face.
“And when something like that happens, your instinct is to blink or shut your eyes,” Dr. Bergstrom said. “That might explain why her eyelids are burned but her eyes themselves are OK.”
Helen was found five weeks ago in East Toledo with a face so swollen her eyes were forced shut.
Cathy Kautz and her husband, Dave, fostered Helen in their West Toledo home and are adopting her. She stepped into the Kautzes’ home, met their two other dogs and cat, and never looked back.
“Her personality is amazing,” Mrs. Kautz said. “She is just happy and sweet as can be.”
The dog tolerated having the dead skin and scabs on her face regularly removed, giving kisses afterward. She mostly learned not to itch her face by rubbing it on the floor, furniture, or people’s clothing. A topical cream helped with that particular problem too.
Helen has yet to meet another human or canine she doesn’t like. She’s happiest outside in the back yard, though she’ll always need sunscreen to protect her exposed skin.
“She’s crazy about her toys,” Mrs. Kautz said. “I don’t know that she’s ever had toys. I’ve seen signs like that, that she obviously didn’t have a good life before.”
It didn’t take the Kautzes long to realize Helen was meant to be a part of their family.
“I couldn’t stand the thought of her going with someone else,” Mrs. Kautz said. “She just seems so happy here, and she deserves that.”
Dr. Bergstom said Helen may need some minor surgery to reconstruct her eyelids. The scarring is pulling her left eyelid up while the right eyelid is being pushed down.
“At this point, they are functioning fine,” the veterinarian said. “They not causing her any problems, but that could change as the scars develop.”
Helen will soon be in a training class for Canine Good Citizen certification. Mrs. Kautz said the dog might be a good candidate to take into schools to teach children how to properly interact with and care for dogs.
The Pit Crew got some tips about Helen and where she may have come from, but the leads fizzled.
“Nothing panned out,” Ms. Keating said. “It’s unfortunate because there’s always that concern that people who do these types of things to animals can do these kinds of things to people too.”
Ms. Keating estimated the Pit Crew’s medical expenses for Helen will add up to as much as $1,000. Donations to the rescue’s medical fund can be made online at lucascountypitcrew.com.
To help other medically needy dogs at the county shelter, donations may be made in person or mailed to Lucas County Canine Care & Control, 410 S. Erie St., Toledo, OH 43604, or online at lucascountydogs.com/donate/cuties-fund. Checks should be made payable to Lucas County Canine Care & Control with “Cutie’s Fund” specified on the memo line.