SPCA: 'Serious' surgery for dog with collar embedded in neck

Liz Evans Scolforo
  • Baby Girl is a young, petite pit bull mix that will be available for adoption once her wound heals.
  • Animal-cruelty charges will be filed against at least one person, a York County SPCA official said.

Melissa Smith said she can only guess at the extent of constant pain suffered by a dog named Baby Girl, who was rescued last week by the York County SPCA.

The pit bull mix is only about 1 or 2 years old, but her collar was deeply embedded under her neck skin, according to Smith, who is executive director of the county SPCA. That happens when a collar is put on a still-growing dog, then never removed or readjusted.

Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA, sits with Baby Girl at the shelter on Friday, Oct 7, 2016. The dog is part of a cruelty investigation after a collar had had to be surgically removed because the skin on her neck had completely grown around it.
(Bill Kalina photo)

The only reason Baby Girl was saved from her Goldsboro home was because she'd broken free of her outdoor tether and was seen by someone in the area. That person called authorities after getting a close look at her neck wound and the attached snapped cable, Smith said.

Any time the dog would have pulled on the cable that was attached to her collar, it would have caused her even more pain, according to Smith.

"If this dog had been a companion inside a home, I feel very strongly this neglect wouldn't have happened," she said. "Once again, (long-term) tethering played a part in this neglect."

Smith said the majority of tethering situations involve some type of animal-cruelty offense, explaining it as a matter of such dogs being "out of sight, out of mind."

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Goldsboro has not adopted a tethering ordinance suggested to all municipalities by the York County SPCA.

Had Baby Girl and another dog lived just outside borough limits, they could not have been legally tethered outside for extended periods of time, Smith said. That's because Newberry Township has an ordinance restricting dog-tethering, she said.

Running loose: Nicole Lawrence, the county SPCA's Humane Society police officer, was called Thursday afternoon to Goldsboro  when Baby Girl and a second dog were seen running loose after having gotten away from their home on Overlook Drive, Smith said.

Baby Girl's condition went unnoticed for some time, according to Smith.

"She could be seen from a distance but not close enough to determine that her neck had grown over the collar," she said. "It would have taken at least a couple months for the collar to become that embedded."

The dog with Baby Girl was a bit underweight but not enough to warrant charges, she said.

Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA, shows the staples in the neck of pit bull mix Baby Girl at the shelter on Friday, Oct 7, 2016. The 1- to 2-year-old dog is part of a cruelty investigation after a too-small collar had to be surgically removed because the skin around the dog's neck had completely grown around it.
(Bill Kalina photo)

Surgery needed: The dogs were brought back to the SPCA's Emigsville shelter, where Baby Girl had to go under the knife.

"It was pretty serious surgery to remove that collar," Smith said. "It was grown in completely around the entire neck, and in some places it was an inch deep into the flesh."

The collar had not yet affected her breathing or restricted her carotid artery, but it eventually would have, without question, Smith confirmed.

"After the collar was removed, the wound that remained was horrific," she said. "It took over 50 staples to repair the wound all the way around her neck. The pain and suffering this dog was experiencing? I can only imagine."

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Recovering: Baby Girl is now recovering at the shelter and will be available for adoption but likely not for more than two weeks.

It didn't take the petite young girl long to win over the entire staff, according to Smith.

"She was absolutely as sweet as she could be before — and is as sweet as she could be after — the surgery," Smith said. "She loves people and just wants to be sitting in your lap. She continues to have a wonderful outlook ... and doesn't hold a grudge against people."

Baby Girl remains in the SPCA's medical wing, where she's getting plenty of care and love, Smith said.

Charges expected: Lawrence, the Humane Society police officer who investigates cruelty for the York County SPCA, has identified the home where Baby Girl was tethered and will be filing charges against one person, Smith said, adding a second person also could  be charged.

"We are speaking with the District Attorney's Office about filing misdemeanor (animal-cruelty) charges," Smith said.

To adopt Baby Girl and other animals at the York County SPCA or to make a donation, visit ycspca.org.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.