SET for a luxurious Caribbean holiday, Sarah Hartwright, who lives with her partner in Greatham, little dreamed she would spend most of it nursing back to life a four-month-old puppy she found lying on the side of the road.
It was on the third day of her December holiday, as she was driving through a run down area of St Maarten, she saw the dog, a tiny island dog “left abandoned like rubbish”.
“I have seen lots of stray dogs on the island,” said Sarah‚ “and shared my lunch with quite a few, but something about this dog made me pull over and go and look at it.
“What I found will stay with me forever. She was lying on the side of the road, in the partial shade of a coconut tree, and was lifeless, covered head to toe in ticks, had a huge swollen belly from starvation, and I could literally see every bone in her body.
“When I walked over to her she raised her head slightly and wagged her tail as best she could as I said ‘hello’. She didn’t have the energy to do much but lick my hand and lay her head down again.”
When Sarah made enquiries from some of the islanders they said the dog, who she has named Coco, had been lying there for some days.
“It was plain to see that she wasn’t long for this world, so I scooped her up and took her back to where I was staying. Over the course of the next four hours, I painstakingly plucked more than 300 ticks from her body. She had them in her ears, round her eyes, all over her body, and even in between the pads on her paws.
“Not once during all of this did she growl, or whimper, even when she had blood pouring from her paws because of all the ticks that had been there.
“I kept her safe and fed her every few hours throughout the night. The next morning I took her to a local vet who said that if I had not picked her up she would have only survived for another 48 hours because she was suffering from tick fever.
“She had a body temp of 40.5 degrees, her gums where white instead of pink because the ticks had drained her of so much blood, her belly was swollen with worms and starvation, and she had fleas.
“The most amazing thing was that she was about four months only but was the size of a two-year-old puppy.”
Sarah said she asked the vets to treat the dog and give her whatever she needed and she would pay for it.
“It was touch and go for the first 10 days as she was so ill but with a Christmas miracle and the wonderful care and attention of the vets she began to recover. I cared for her for the next three days before I had to return to the UK.
“I agreed with the vets to leave her in their care until she was well enough to fly and that I would return to collect her to bring her back to the UK to spend the rest of her life being loved.”
In order to get the airfare to fly the dog back to the UK, Sarah has launched an appeal in which she asks anyone who can spare a few pounds to donate to the rescue of Coco.
“We are trying to raise £1,000 via a GoFundMe campaign and currently have received £320 from friends and family. I will be grateful for any donation.
“Coco has had such an awful start to life and yet she has never once barked or growled at anyone. I am hoping she will begin to learn how to be a puppy and enjoy life and, in doing so, get her bark back.”
“I would love to be able to raise the money and then post Coco’s successful relocation and happy ending on here for all to see. Our local vets in Petersfield have posted our campaign on their Facebook site and it is highlighted in their surgery.”
To donate to Coco’s rescue, visit gofundme.com/rescuecoco.