Deaf, stray pup on mend

Whitespot goes for a walk with his foster family at McDonald Beach in Richmond. The 18-month-old dog needs a permanent home. - Contributed photo
Whitespot goes for a walk with his foster family at McDonald Beach in Richmond. The 18-month-old dog needs a permanent home.
— image credit: Contributed photo

A deaf and lost dog who dozens of people attempted to help in South Surrey last weekend is now recovering from his ordeal.

Whitespot, an 18-month-old shepherd-husky cross, suffered a slight fracture and dislocation to his leg after apparently being hit by a vehicle while running loose through traffic Saturday.

But the executive director of Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue said the dog’s scheduled surgery was cancelled after he began walking on the injured limb.

“He’s going on anti-inflammatories and will be assessed again in two weeks to a month,” Yvette Labatte said, noting the pooch is currently staying with a foster parent in Richmond. “He will recover and (we’ll) put him back on Petfinder and try to find him a forever home.”

Labatte – who is currently seeking an adoptive home for the dog – said Whitespot was just six months old when he came to Turtle Gardens, located three hours outside of Prince George, in Topley.

“He was bought as a guard dog and chained up, and (the owners) did not know he was deaf so he would be asleep on the job and they would kick him, so he was quite abused. When we got him, he was terrified to fall asleep.”

Whitespot was brought to South Surrey March 12 to stay with prospective owners, she said.

“They wanted to try him out, trial him, to see if he fit and if he wasn’t too much for him – he was.”

Labatte said it was around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon when he was startled by a stranger and backed out of his collar outside a home near 142 Street and 20 Avenue.

“Once he realized he was free, he was gone.”

Labatte said she was contacted immediately, and a group of Turtle Gardens alumni, past adopters and supporters began searching the neighbourhood and putting up posters.

Whitespot was spotted off and on near the forested area of Softball City over the next six days, but managed to evade capture.

“He’d come almost within reach and then dance away,” said Labatte, who assumes Whitespot was living in the woods.

“He’s a survivor. He was probably catching mice, there was lots of water, it was warm.”

On Saturday, he was spooked out of the area and made his way down to King George Boulevard and Highway 99 while running from a convoy of people attempting to catch him, she said.

“I think... he was finally getting a little bit hungry, so he came out, and once he came out, people were trying to catch him and, not knowing he was deaf, they were chasing him and he got scared.”

Labatte said it was one of the first times Whitespot had seen sidewalks, let alone a highway.

“That’s where he got into trouble. He had no city skills whatsoever,” she said, noting a witness claims to have seen him get hit by a car.

“He can’t hear the vehicles coming, and then he really got spooked then.”

One witness said dozens of people spontaneously joined the hours-long chase – with some jumping from their vehicles to block traffic and others pulling up with leashes, water, dog beds and food – until Whitespot eventually darted into a treed area at 150A Street and 35 Avenue.

Professional tracker Al MacLellan was called in, and found him within 20 minutes, Labatte said.

“It was a tremendous, tremendous outpouring of support. We were so very, very fortunate.”

Whitespot has been recommended for hydrotherapy and monitoring. Turtle Gardens has taken responsibility for his medical care.

“If he needs surgery, he will get surgery,” Labatte said, adding people have been donating towards his care and recovery.

Labatte said Whitespot – who is being familiarized with city life with his current caretaker – is smart, mellow, affectionate, cunning and a practical joker with “a real sense of humour.”

“He is an awesomely beautiful animal with a real, real personality. He’s going to make somebody an awesome companion.”

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