By Catherine Reid
It’s been a ruff few years for this dog, who has a rare disease causing him to SELF HARM.
Gorgeous George, a Cocker Spaniel, gnaws his paws down to the bone and regularly chews on his hind pads, causing them to bleed.
Worried vets thought the rescue dog was self harming because of stress, but tests revealed he was actually suffering from a rare genetic disorder.
The three-year-old has now been diagnosed with Acral Mutilation Syndrome – a persistent itching which worsens over time.
He needs round the clock care and his treatment has set the Cocker and English Springer Spaniel Rescue (CAESSR) back £10,000 in just two years.
Di Harrison, from Tarporley, Cheshire, founded CAESSR – the charity which cared and paid for George’s treatment.
She said: “George was chewing his hind paws and drawing blood – even when his owners were in the home.
“He had almost eaten away part of one of his toes.
“It was thought he was suffering pins and needles in his feet owing to a slight deformity on his spine.
“The chewing then became a habit.”
Di helped wean George off his chewing using bandages, and two years on, his scars have started to heal.
The pooch has now been re-homed in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, and is well on the road to recovery thanks to a generous donation from Manor Court Veterinary Centre, part of the Willows Veterinary Group.
Di said: “George, who is now around three, came to us in March 2015 as a 10-month-old show type Cocker.
“In over 30 years of looking after animals I’ve never seen anything like this before.
“At first we thought it was due to stress, but after one of the founders read an article in a dog magazine, we suspected that it might be Acral Mutilation Syndrome, which was later confirmed when samples were sent to a laboratory in France.
“Apart from the self-harm he’s also had lots of other health problems, but he’s a real fighter and has come through everything so far.
“He’s such a lovely and friendly dog and we wanted to persevere with his treatment.
“After months of constant bandaging, George is now in a permanent foster home having had behaviorist help and many trips to the vet.
“The donation we received from Manor Court is very welcome and I can’t thank them enough for it as we rely entirely on donations to keep going.”
Owner Laura Herbert, from Hanley, said she’d ‘do anything’ for George, and has even changed her job so she can properly care for him.
She said: “When I first started fostering him I’d just been made redundant and had plenty of time to spare for him.
“I then got a full-time job in construction management, but George has so many health problems including his self-harm syndrome, so I gave it up.
“I now work part-time as a barmaid, and between me and my housemate Matthew Rogers, we can properly care for him.
“We’ve now worked out our work patterns so we can spend as much time as possible with George and we’re also helped by a rota of friends and family.”
She added: “Matt didn’t like dogs at first but now he’d do anything for George, we both would.
“George is OK at the minute but I know left to his own devices he’d start chewing himself again.
“People think I’m mad for what I do for George but he’s such a lovely natured, adorable dog you just can’t help yourself wanting to care for him.”
Vet Richard Nolan, from Manor Court Veterinary Centre, said: “Although I’ve never treated him myself, I’ve heard George’s story.
“It’s a very unusual case as Acral Mutilation Syndrome is a vicious circle which starts with itching and ends up with an animal chewing its own extremities.
“I know George’s treatment has been very expensive so I’m glad the donation from Willows Veterinary Group will make some contribution towards that.”