Rescuing animals is often a thankless job. These rescuers often see animals in the worst of conditions day in and day out, yet they continue to work on their behalf. This is something Liz Haslam of Barnham, England, knows all about.
As the founder of the rescue Beds For Bullies, Liz has been known to go to great lengths to save bull terriers from unsafe environments. But nothing could’ve prepared her for when she was recently contacted about a neglected dog halfway around the world in Gökova, Turkey…
As founder of Beds For Bullies in Barnham, England—a dog rescue center that specializes in finding homes for bull terriers—Liz Haslam has seen her fair share of animal neglect and abuse over the years.
The dogs she takes into her care often have scars that show their traumatic pasts. Recently, Liz had 15 English bull terriers staying with her, all with their own various injuries and issues. One of them was Eric…
Liz learned about Eric when a friend contacted her explaining there was a dog in Gökova, Turkey, who was in serious need of help. Not only had he been abused by his owner, but it was believed that he was a fighting dog, too.
Even though dog fighting has been outlawed in Turkey for many years, it still commonly happens in underground circles. In such instances, it’s common for dog fighters to utilize bull terriers of a similar size to Eric.
Liz had to do anything she could to help Eric—no matter the cost. Of course, transporting him to England from Turkey would be expensive, so she held a fundraiser to try to raise the $3,000 for his flight and the medical attention he’d need upon arrival.
There were, however, some minor setbacks in bringing Eric to England. Though he was due to arrive in July, there were various holdups with immigration policies—causing his departure to be delayed for two whole months.
Luckily, Liz was nothing if not patient, and Eric finally arrived in England in September. Unfortunately, Eric looked to be in worse shape than Liz anticipated. Not only was he physically injured, he was nearly blind and had an abscess in his mouth!
Liz knew she’d have to bring him to her local veterinarian immediately. When she did, she realized the horrifying extent of his injuries. The reason for his abscess? Poor Eric had another dog’s tooth lodged in his gums.
Such an injury was all but a confirmation he’d been involved in illegal dog fighting back home in Turkey. So the veterinarian performed an X-ray to see if Eric sustained any internal injuries. But they never expected what they’d find…
The X-ray revealed a large number of gun pellets lodged inside Eric’s skull. In total, the veterinarian counted about 50 lead pellets that had landed just mere inches from his brain. It was a miracle that he was even alive.
“It is a wonder it didn’t kill him straight away or he didn’t die from septicemia from the filthy conditions he was living in,” Liz explained. “It breaks my heart to think what he’s been through, but I can’t allow that to tug on my heartstrings because I have to get on with looking after him.”
Sadly, there was nothing the vet could do to remove the pellets, as it would be far too dangerous. Eric was going to have to live with them in his head for good. They did, however, manage to remove the other dog’s tooth from his gums.
Unfortunately, Eric’s medical bills began to add up, exceeding the $3,000 Liz anticipated. All in all, his medical care totaled $5,000, and Liz turned to various supporters for help. After all, she’d do anything to help Eric survive, no matter the cost…
“All of my dogs have got issues and they are all rescue dogs,” Liz said in an interview. “I live for my dogs and do everything I can for them. To enable me to continue what I do, I need somebody to help me along the way with some funds.”
“All the money is spent on them and I don’t get a penny,” Liz explained. “I’m happy for people to donate to the vets directly so they can be sure where the money is going.” So, did all her hard work pay off?
It did! Liz miraculously raised enough money to pay for Eric’s medical bills. She was ecstatic, though all she could do was reflect on his past. “His life in Turkey must have been truly horrific, I try not to think about it,” she said. “He must have taken the full blast by the way the pellets have hit his face.”
It was a miracle the veterinarian could treat Eric’s wounds at all, and for that, Liz was incredibly thankful. “Thank you as always for the fabulous care my Eric got today. You’re all so kind. What a shock to discover 50 lead shots in his head, but you guys, as always, dealt with it with such compassion and kindness,” she later wrote on Facebook.
Liz was so inspired by Eric that she nominated him for the Rescue Animal of the Year Award, which was an award that goes to animals who overcome extreme adversity and achieve something incredible. It was something she knew he’d done tenfold.
Liz knew how important it was that others heard Eric’s story, too. He survived despicable and unimaginable cruelty, but he still managed to settle into domestic life as she continued to foster him.
It’s hard to accept that such a sweet dog could experience so much cruelty during the early stages of his life. Thankfully, with caring people like Liz by his side, he was able to get the help he needed and start living the life he always deserved.
It’s unfortunate that Eric had such a troubling life before he met Liz. Luckily, he never has to worry about living that way again!