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Dubai dog safe in England

A PEDIGREE Lhasa Apso was abandoned on a Dubai road just before Christmas, and was befriended by a British nanny. The dog - later named Sandy - had been battered, had a matted coat and sore skin and was found to have a length of barbed wire wrapped around his body. Luckily for Sandy, he has been rescued from his life of torment and will spend the rest of his days safe in the UK, writes Nick Mays.

The saga began on December 16th last year. The four year-old dog was spotted by Melanie Segal, 29, who works as a nanny in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and her friend Karine were driving along the main Al Wasl Road to Dubai, having just been Christmas shopping.

"I was horrified when a small dog came literally flying out of the back window of a 4 x 4 in front of us," recalls Melanie. "He landed on his back, but picked himself up and came running towards my car. He reminded me of 'Benji', the dog from TV, except that this poor dog's face was a mask of pure terror. I managed to swerve to avoid hitting him as he ran into an old compound by the side of the road. I pulled up and ran after him. Karine stayed with my car to see if the other car came back for him - which it never did."

Melanie found the little dog in the last garden in the compound, cowering in a corner. She approached him calmly and quietly, whereupon he lay down on his side and let her pick him up. Melanie was horrified by what she found.

"He was shaking uncontrollably and was in a terrible state," she says. "His hair was matted right to his skin, he had a nasty gash across his shoulder blades, the white of his left eye was completely black, as though he had been hit, and there was barbed wire around his tummy,"

Melanie took the dog home and cut off the barbed wire from his tummy, where it had formed several deep punctures, and clipped the matted fur from around his bottom. At the first opportunity she got, Melanie took the dog to the Jumeirah Veterinary Clinic in Dubai.

"I have never heard a dog wail as loud and as hard as he did, he was so scared and shocked, I was on the verge of tears," says Melanie. "All the vet did was to take his temperature and give him an injection."

Melanie's employers, although sympathetic, said it would be impossible for her to keep the dog, as the family often travelled, including visits to England for two months at a time.

Melanie contacted the only dog charity in Dubai, an organisation called K9 that mainly helps lost and abandoned dogs. The charity had no room for Sandy, but took all the details provided by Melanie and promised to contact her when there was room for him. In the meantime, Melanie's employers allowed her to keep the dog at their home temporarily. The children she cares for named the dog "Sandyluck" - being the colour of sand and lucky to be alive.

Five days later, K9 called Melanie, but not with the news she was expecting. A man had contacted them, saying he had lost his dog, and the description he gave matched that of Sandyluck.

The man, a doctor at a Dubai hospital contacted Melanie and explained that he had been on holiday with his family and that his maid had ill treated Sandyluck.

"He kept telling me he was a Paediatrician," says Melanie. "All I could reply was that being a Paediatrician didn't necessarily make him a nice person. Anyway, he said his dog's name was Muffy and belonged to his ten year-old son who was very upset at losing him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and he came round to the house with a bunch of flowers for me, reimbursed me for the vet’s bio and gave me his business card so I could contact him and go to see Sandyluck, which made me feel a little easier. Sandyluck seemed happy enough to go with the man, who promised that he would be the only one to take care of the dog from now on."

Melanie had cause to feel cheated and angry when, on December 27th, the Veterinary Hospital called her top ask if she had lost Sandyluck, as another woman had brought him into the hospital.

"Sheila, the other lady, found him outside her door on Christmas Day, shaking and having trouble walking," says Melanie, angrily. "She brought him straight round to me and explained that she has eight dogs and her elderly mother to look after, but said that whatever I decided to do, I should not give him back to the paediatrician. She also told me that in 42 years of living in Dubai, she had heard many stories like Sandyluck's. Dogs are simply chattels to be used and abused as the owners see fit. The barbed wire was a crude way of preventing him from mating, it seems. In any event, his so-called 'caring' owner didn't try to find him again."

Melanie decided that it was meant to be that Sandyluck should stay with her.
"My mother Anne was visiting me in Dubai over Christmas and she said we couldn't just turn Sandy away," adds Melanie, "so we arranged for him to be imported into England, even though this means six months' quarantine for him, but we will keep him at our home in Bishop's Stortford. He will never be abused or hurt again!”


Arrangements were duly made and last week Sandy travelled by plane to England and entered quarantine at the North Weald Kennels. He is due to be released on August 4th, and is currently receiving ongoing veterinary treatment for his injuries.

"He's on steroids for the pain in his back and he will need an operation in a couple of years' time to sort out the damage," explains Melanie's mother Anne. "The vet is of the opinion that he suffered long-term abuse and obviously a great deal of trauma from the fall from the car. Sandy is devoted to Melanie and me though and although he's nervous, he has made great strides since he was rescued.

"He's not sure of the kennel maids yet, but he is delighted to see me and I visit him almost every day. He's receiving excellent care and attention and we hope he'll be very well adjusted when he can be released in the summer and come home with us. Melanie should be home by then and they'll be reunited."

The cost of Sandyluck's importation and ongoing quarantine and veterinary costs are extremely high, and, after his case was highlighted in a local newspaper, a 'Sandy Appeal' has been set up to help raise money to meet these costs.

If you would like to make a donation, payments may be sent to:
Sandy's Appeal, Lloyds/TSB Bank plc, Bishop's Stortford, Herts.
A/C no. 12339660.
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