It’s Vanessa here, the founder of Hope Rescue. I don’t usually post in a personal capacity, but as Merlin’s foster carer, his story and legacy are very personal to me.
You may remember the ten English Bulldogs we took in back in June after they were seized and then signed over to a Local Authority on welfare grounds. We had truly never seen such badly bred dogs, and Merlin was the smallest and worst affected of them. He had cherry eye, problems with all his limbs, an inverted corkscrew tail and almost closed nostrils. Sadly the Bulldogs came down with parvo within a couple of days of admission, but we were over the moon when they all pulled through and we could start their investigations to try and improve their many health conditions.
Merlin had been on pain relief and treatment for his eyes in the interim. As the smallest Bulldog, he was being picked on my his littermates so we decided to foster him. He was an absolute delight, mixing wonderfully with his foster siblings and spending all day in my office with me snoozing on a bed under the desk, his favourite place in the world.
Merlin went in to the vets last week for further investigations and X-rays. I’m devastated to report he didn’t make it out. We knew this was a risk but it hit us like a ton of bricks. His X-rays showed severe elbow dysplasia and osteoarthritis at just 8 months old. He also had osteoarthritis in both stifle (knee) joints. The femoral head in his hips were not in the sockets. His spine showed hemivertebrae (twisting and fusing together of the vertebrae) – it is this deformity that is responsible for the corkscrew tail of the bulldog and other breeds but in Merlin’s case it also affected other vertebrae.
In consultation with the vet we took the incredibly difficult decision to let Merlin go whilst he was comfortable under anaesthetic. He would need extensive surgery for his hips, stifles and elbows and was at high risk of developing further spinal issues. Even with surgery he would still be experiencing pain. The kindest and most ethical decision was to let him go peacefully. We wanted more than anything to bring him home and say goodbye, but to wake him up would have been for our well-being and not his welfare which was our priority.
The tears are still flowing as I write this. Tears of pain for a wasted life and just the most beautiful little soul, and tears of anger for those responsible for his suffering. We will never stop fighting to improve our breeding laws and stop the suffering and misery that backyard breeding and puppy farming brings. We will always be here to help Local Authorities carry out their vital work tackling illegal and low welfare breeders, even if we don’t always get the outcome we so badly hope for. This will be Merlin’s legacy and I promise we will never give up no matter how hard the journey is.
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Thank you so much from Vanessa and the Hope Rescue team. Rest easy little man, we will never, ever forget you.