D. E. Larsen, DVM
We were still getting organized in our garage as we waited for the clinic to be completed. It almost looked like a mini clinic, although it would not measure up to any current standards. But it was looking like we were stuck here for a few months.
Betty pulled into the driveway and looked a little stressed. There were no appointments scheduled, as we were still a long way from having a full schedule. In those months, I appreciated everyone who found us. We hadn’t done any advertising. Stan Ego at the feed store had been great at sending people our way. His efforts were probably life-saving for our struggling bank account.
I had met Betty when I was on a farm call at her father’s place up the Calapooia River. She had a dog, Clyde, who was best described as a mutt. His usefulness was debatable, especially when we were trying to work cows.
I went out to help Betty with Clyde.
“What’s up this morning?” I asked.
“I don’t know, Doc,” Betty said. “Clyde is all swollen up around his private parts this morning, and he is really painful.”
I picked up Clyde from the backseat and carried him to the exam table in the middle of the garage. There was a significant swelling around his scrotum and prepuce. With some drainage on my arm, there was an open wound somewhere.
When the thermometer read one hundred and four, I knew we had an infection. I laid Clyde on his side and rolled him up on his back. Clyde snarled when I moved his hind leg to allow me a better view.
“He is pretty painful,” I said. “I’m going to put a muzzle on him for a couple of minutes while I get a closer look.”
With Clyde muzzled, I looked closely, and someone had put an elastrator band on Clyde.
“Betty, someone has put one of those castration bands on Clyde,” I said. “They work on young calves and lambs, but on dogs, they just cut into the skin and cause a massive infection. That is what is going on with Clyde.”
“We never use those on calves,” Betty said. “I wonder who would do that to Clyde?”
“My guess is you have a neighbor with a dog in heat,” I said. “They probably have taken exception to Clyde’s attention to their dog.”
“That is terrible, and I bet I know who did this,” Betty said. “What do we need to do with Clyde?”
“I am afraid Clyde will have to be neutered,” I said. “There is no saving those testicles now. He will also lose his scrotum. Once with get things cleaned up and put him on some antibiotics, things should heal fine. I will leave some open wounds for drainage, and I might have to place a couple of drain tubes. If everything goes as planned, Clyde should be able to go home this afternoon.”
“That would be great,” Betty said. “We have talked about neutering him. It just never seemed to be the right time. He will be much happier if he doesn’t have to stay overnight.”
When I got Clyde under anesthesia, I clipped and scrubbed the area well. I could see the elastrator band cinched around the testicular cords about a half inch under the skin. I carefully severed the band with a scalpel. Once the band was removed, I removed the scrotum. That was easy, as most of its attachments were already severed.
It is a wonder that Clyde had not chewed things off already. Then he would have had a real mess.
I routinely removed the testicles. Leaving the tunics intact, I ligated each cord separately. I allowed them to return to their normal position in the groin. After finding no pockets of fluid, I stretched the opening left by the removal of the scrotum and loaded Clyde up on antibiotics.
When Betty arrived to take Clyde home, most of the swelling was already gone.
“I talked with the neighbor,” Betty said. “He wouldn’t come right out and admit that he had done it, but he said enough that I know who did it. Do you think I should report him for animal abuse?”
“With no proof, it becomes one of those he said, she said things,” I said. “I doubt if the sheriff is going to do anything about it. But you might just tell the neighbor you are thinking about reporting him. It might make him worry a bit.”
“They say the animal abusers often progress to become people abusers, or worse,” Betty said.
“That is probably the case,” I said. “He would probably have a case that would prevent a charge of aggravated animal abuse. He would say that it was done in anger and he was trying to protect his dog. It would be little different from someone abusing a dog for the pure enjoyment of it.”
“Do you need to see Clyde again?” Betty asked.
“There are no sutures, just a large hole for drainage,” I said. “If you have any problem getting the pills into him, I should hear from you. It would probably be good for me to glance at this wound in three or four days, but the swelling is already down. I think we are home free.”
Clyde went home and healed up with no problem. Betty did have another conversation with her neighbor, and it worried him enough that he gave me a call.
We discussed appropriate ways to deal with neighbor conflicts when dogs are involved. It is grossly unfair to the dog to make him suffer because people can’t settle a disagreement. I think he learned from the conversation.
Photo by Damian Barczak on Pexels.