Rescued dog facing surgery for tumor

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Oreo, a poodle mix rescued from Watertown, is cleaned up after a flea bath and haircut, but he needs surgery for the large tumor on his chest. -POODLE RESCUE CT

NAUGATUCK — When Oreo’s owners surrendered their 6-year-old poodle mix to Poodle Rescue Connecticut last week, a tumor on his chest was so big, it dragged on the ground, causing it to bleed.

His hair was matted and filled with urine and feces. He was infested with fleas and had dermatitis.

“This is a case of animal abuse,” said Steven Price, a veterinarian from Watertown Animal Hospital. “It could’ve been dealt with easily a couple of years ago.”

Price said the tumor, which must’ve been growing for years, makes up at least six pounds of the 26-pound mixed-breed.

Despite his inability to walk due to the massive growth, rescuer Daryl Masone said Oreo’s tail wouldn’t stop wagging. His fleas have been treated and a topical steroid helped heal his skin.

“He’s doing a lot better,” said Masone, a Naugatuck woman who is the founder and president of Poodle Rescue Connecticut. “He’s just a love. He’s quite happy.”

Now Price is planning surgery this week to remove the growth, which so far seems to be benign. He’ll do a biopsy after the surgery to make sure. The surgery will take several hours, he said, but hopefully the dog won’t need skin grafts. A few more months, he said, and it would’ve become inoperable. The skin over the mass was getting thin and starting to break down, Price said, which would’ve led to infection.

Price estimated the surgery will cost between $1,500 and $2,000.

“In time, I think he’s going to do well if he can come through this surgery,” Masone said.

Masone said she won’t press criminal charges against the dog’s owner, who lives in Watertown.

“If you lack that much intelligence, what would be my point,” Masone said. “If I was to go to the authorities, somehow they would end up with the dog back. The good news is I have the dog, and we’re going to try our very best to get him the help that he needs.”

Masone works with three other people to foster poodles from all over New England. The 18-year-old nonprofit rescues around 125 dogs a year.

While most of her dogs need medical care totaling $800 to $1,200 for dental work, Masone said most don’t need the extensive surgery Oreo will require.

“Veterinary costs have gone right out the window,” Masone said.

Because her rescue dogs tend to be older, she said she can’t ask for more than $350 to $400 for an adoption donation.

“People give dogs up rather than pay medical expenses,” Masone said.

Donations for Oreo can be given to the Watertown Animal Hospital by calling 860-274-2212 or mailing donations to Oreo, 672 Litchfield Road, Watertown, CT 06795. Donations can also be sent via PayPal at www.poodlerescuect.org or mailed to Poodle Rescue CT care of P.O. Box 188, Naugatuck, CT 06770.