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Unchained melody: A dog with an embedded collar gets a second chance

Posted on Tuesday, October 06, 2020
Though he has suffered immeasurable cruelty, Freedom looks forward to a new chapter with a loving family.

Responding to reports of stray animals is an everyday occurrence for animal control agencies. When Henrico County’s Animal Protection Unit received a call about a thin brindle dog dragging a large chain in August, its officers responded, ready to retrieve the dog and take him to the safety of the county’s shelter. Upon arrival, they quickly discovered that the dog was in a dire situation. Henrico County Animal Shelter supervisor Lieutenant Shawn Sears recalls how a routine call turned into an emergency situation.

“Responding officers captured the dog and quickly discovered that he had a large chain embedded in his neck.  The heavy chain was completely covered by decaying flesh.  Even though the dog had to be in excruciating pain, he allowed officers to handle him and transport him to a local veterinarian.”

The heavy 8-pound chain was so deeply embedded in the dog’s neck that the veterinarian needed officers to return with bolt cutters to break the chain. The severity of the injury indicated that the dog had endured the pain of the constricting chain for quite some time. The veterinarian immediately anethestized him and began the process of extracting the chain and cleaning the wound. Henrico County Animal Control then transported the dog back to its shelter for him to recover. After enduring so much cruelty and pain, the dog was safe at last and was aptly given the name Freedom.

“Freedom endured several procedures to clean the significant wound that covered the entire circumference of his neck.  Staff at the Henrico County Animal Shelter had to clean and medicate his neck for an entire month. He continued to display a great demeanor throughout the entire time he was at the shelter.”

WARNING: The next photos may be disturbing. 

Though the person who treated Freedom so cruelly was never identified or prosecuted, Henrico County Animal Control was determined to not let the resilient dog fall into cruel hands again. They contacted the Richmond SPCA to alert the Admissions team to Freedom’s case and his need for continued veterinary care. On September 2, 2020, Henrico County Animal Control transferred the 3-year-old dog into our care.

“The Richmond SPCA visits multiple local municipal shelters regularly and transfers animals from those facilities as resources allow.  They provide an invaluable service to both the area’s communities as well as the pets that live in those communities.  The Richmond SPCA helps many wonderful animals just like Freedom every year,” said Lt. Shawn Sears.

During Freedom’s intake exam, our shelter veterinary team examined his neck and did bloodwork. Though Freedom’s wound had healed, he tested positive for heartworms and needed critical veterinary treatment for this potentially fatal disease. Shy and unsure of his new surroundings, Freedom continued to be cooperative and patient throughout his treatment.

Heartworm infestations are among the conditions most frequently treated by our shelter medicine team. This year 158 dogs have been treated for heartworms at the Richmond SPCA. It’s a sad reality for so many dogs to have to go through the health consequences of untreated disease and the potential complications of treatment for an easily preventable condition.

“Dogs like Freedom, who have other signs of neglect and a history life predominantly outdoors, are even more likely to be heartworm positive, because it comes with the territory of being discarded outdoors, unprotected from the mosquito-borne parasite and not provided the preventative” said Dr. Angela Ivey, director of veterinary medicine. “When we neutered him, we began his treatment followed by strict exercise restrictions to reduce the complication  of lung embolism that is the greatest risk for these dogs.”

Freedom has endured a cruel life, but his new chapter begins now. Thanks to your support of our Cinderella Fund, we can deliver essential veterinary care to thousands of homeless pets like Freedom each year before finding them lasting homes where they will be loved for a lifetime. 

Freedom is looking for a loving and patient guardian who will continue to help him heal from his past. If you have a quiet home where this sweet dog can continue to build his confidence, please complete an online adoption survey and contact our adoption desk and leave a message at 804-521-1307.

Help dogs like Freedom by supporting our Cinderella Fund

All proceeds raised through our 22nd Annual Fur Ball event help sick, injured and neonatal animals by fueling our Cinderella Fund. Join the four-legged fun and help pets in need!


Anne Goddard Rand and Tophe (dog)

Anne Goddard Rand is the communications specialist at the Richmond SPCA. Prior to working for the Richmond SPCA, she worked in the wildlife conservation field with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the National Wildlife Federation.

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