By Rose Schneider, Reading Eagle
A pit bull had been left to suffer burns on the scorching roof of a city building for 10 hours before it was discovered and brought to the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, officials said Wednesday.
"The pads on his feet are now completely burned off," said Barrie A. Pease, president of the board of directors at the shelter. He said the Rescue League has not been able to find the owner of the dog, which was found Tuesday evening on the roof of a building in the 700 block of North Front Street.
"He's a sweetheart and well-behaved, so we know he has an owner," Pease said.
ARL Executive Director Harry D. Brown III said the pit bull also had burned nipples, suggesting that he tried to lay down on the hot roof because his feet were in so much pain.
Brown said the dog was discovered when Reading police called the shelter to inform them the pit bull was stranded on a roof. He said once the shelter's on-call employee arrived at the building, the dog had been brought down to the porch and was panting a lot and obviously dehydrated.
"Our vet washed (his wounds) out, then put medication on them, wrapped him up and put him on antibiotics and (other) medication," Brown said. "When he walks, you can tell it hurts him."
However, the pit bull, which Brown says is probably about 2 years old, is expected to make a full recovery.
"It's just going to take a little time," he said.
Leaving your dog outside in unbearable extreme heat like Berks County has been experiencing all week is dangerous for the pet, Brown said.
"They can have heat strokes, like people," he said.
The Humane Society of Berks County Inc. has been experiencing similar emergencies this week, keeping their officers on high alert, said Dylan Heckart, director of development and public relations.
Heckart said the Humane Society's officers have had to remove one dog from its owner, have given out two citations for violating the state's animal cruelty law and have received 30 complaint calls of dogs being left outside in the heat over the past few days.
"It's intensely too hot to have your dog outside today," Heckart said Wednesday.
He said it is extremely important for dog owners to understand that if it's too hot for you to be outside, it is even worse for your pet to be outside.
"He's got a fur coat," Heckart said.
Owners should bring their dogs inside to a basement or garage where the cement is much cooler and safer for the pets, Brown said.
Although there is no specific temperature that is clearly too hot for dogs to be outdoors, Heckart said dogs would not be able to handle temperatures ranging from 90 to 100 degrees, plus high humidity.
"This weather is absolutely deadly," he said. "Dogs have a limited ability to shed excess heat."
Heckart said because of this, dogs are very susceptible to overheating and organ failure.
"If they have to be outside, make sure they're in shade and have fresh, clean water all day," Brown said.
However, both Brown and Heckart said the best method for dog owners is to keep their pets indoors for the animals' safety, especially the rest of this week as the heat is expected to become more intense.
Update August 16, 2011 - The following article is from Erie Times-News:
Stem cells used to treat dog left on hot Pa. roof
A dog whose paws were badly burned when he was left outside on a hot roof for at least 10 hours has undergone a unique stem-cell procedure that veterinarians hope will give him a chance at a normal life.
A Reading police officer found the stranded dog on July 19, with the pads of its paws burned off. The young pit bull also had burn marks on his spine and chest, believed to be caused when he tried to take the weight off his damaged paws by lying down on the roof, according to the Reading Eagle newspaper.
Veterinarian Dr. Boyd Wagner attempted to regrow the pads on the dog's paws by using stem cells harvested from another animal, a first-of-its-kind procedure that required approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"I don't think I've seen anything that bad in 25 years," said Wagner, veterinarian and owner of the Wyomissing Animal Hospital. "They were severe, third-degree burns."
Wagner, who volunteered his time, has been working with Celavet Inc., a California-based biotechnology firm conducting stem-cell research in horses, cats and dogs. He said it's unclear whether the experimental treatment, performed Aug. 4, was successful.
The dog, dubbed Bernie, is doing OK under the circumstances.
"He seems to be happy," Wagner said. "He's a tough little guy."
Law enforcement officials are looking for the pit bull's owner. Crime Alert Berks County is offering a reward for information leading to the owner's arrest.
Bernie is recovering at a kennel run by the Animal Rescue League of Berks County. League spokeswoman Chris Shaughness said Bernie won't be offered for adoption until he has recovered.
Update October 25, 2011 - The following article is by Mike Urban, Reading Eagle:
On mended paws, dog needs new pad
Bernie the pit bull has come a long way since he was left to roast on the roof of a city building July 19.
The 2-year-old dog spent 10 hours on the roof that day, one of the summer's hottest. He was found with his paw pads melted from the intense heat from the roof, dehydrated and with his back and chest also burned.
Now Bernie's almost fully recovered, with paw pads having grown back.
And he's ready for a new home.
The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, where Bernie has been living, is accepting applications to adopt him. He's a good dog with a lot of energy who loves to play ball, said Barrie A. Pease, ARL board president. Still, it would be best if he is the only pet in his new home because he doesn't get along well with cats and some other dogs, Pease said.
Law enforcement officials haven't been able to determine who Bernie's previous owner was, but they are still looking as part of their animal cruelty investigation.
Bernie, though, has moved on.
He originally was found on the roof in the 700 block of North Front Street by police, who were called by neighbors who saw the dog stranded and struggling.
The ARL was called and took Bernie to Dr. Boyd C. Wagner, veterinarian and owner of the Wyomissing Animal Hospital.
All four pads on each of his paws were burned off, said Wagner, who had never seen such injuries.
Wagner wanted to try fixing Bernie's feet with a stem-cell skin treatment that had never before been used on a dog and got permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to do so Aug. 4.
Wagner worked with Celavet Inc., a California-based biotechnology firm conducting stem-cell research in animals. Bernie's was the first case of using another animal's stem cells programmed to grow into specialized types of cells, the goal being to regrow his pads at a quicker rate, Wagner said.
Though it's impossible to say how much the treatment helped Bernie, Wagner thinks it made a big difference in his rapid and complete recovery. The only way to gauge exactly how the treatment worked would have been to perform it on one or two of Bernie's paws, while allowing the others to heal normally. But Wagner said that would have been cruel.
"This wasn't an experiment," he said. "We wanted to help the dog heal, and I think the stem cells helped."
Now Wagner and the Animal Rescue League are hoping Bernie gets some more help, this time from a loving family.
"He's a nice dog," Wagner said. "I hope he gets a good home."