WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: ‘It is one of the worst neglect cases I’ve seen’

Lilly the dog.
Lilly the dog.

A badly-neglected dog, found with a huge tumour between her legs which nearly touched the ground when she walked and was being held together by string, has been rescued.

The stricken animal, discovered in a property in Northumberland, was also suffering from a severe skin condition, had overgrown claws and her ears were so swollen and infected, they were closed.

Lilly's horrendous tumour, held together with string.

Lilly's horrendous tumour, held together with string.

Thankfully, she was plucked from despair by Northumberland County Council’s animal welfare team and handed into the loving arms of Alnwick-based dog sanctuary SHAK.

So bad was her condition, that the charity’s founder, Stephen Wylie, has described it as one of the worst cases of neglect/mistreatment he has ever seen.

The pooch, named Lilly by SHAK, is now on the mend and has had the tumour removed, while the county council is carrying out an investigation into the neglect.

But Stephen, who set up SHAK 11 years ago, is sickened by the state that the 12-year-old Labrador-cross was in.

Lilly's overgrown claws.

Lilly's overgrown claws.

“What a poor girl,” he said. “She was in a horrendous condition when she was handed over to us and I can say, hand on heart, that it is one of the worst cases of neglect/mistreatment I have ever seen.

“On arrival with the animal welfare team, she was suffering from a horrendous skin condition, her face especially was so red and sore, but also her claws were disgustingly overgrown and her ears were so swollen and infected they were simply shut.

“However, it wasn’t until Lilly first stood up in the house that the animal welfare officer saw the true horror of the neglect she suffered.

“Hanging from between her back legs was a huge mass, that almost touched the ground when she walked. Even worse was to come, when on closer inspection it appeared the mass was being held together by string.

After the operation. Lilly is tumour free.

After the operation. Lilly is tumour free.

“For me, this is the biggest shock in all of this. The skin condition I’ve seen a hundred times before, but never anything quite as cruel as leaving a dog tied up like that.

“It must have been so uncomfortable apart from anything else. Surely there must have been a moment at some point when someone realised the dog needed to see a vet?”

After being rescued, Lilly was taken to the vets, where she was prescribed eardrops and steroids for her skin.

Her tumour was subsequently removed by St Clair Veterinary Care, in Blyth, and Stephen is waiting to hear whether the mass was malignant or benign.

Lilly after being in SHAK's care. She is improving all of the time.

Lilly after being in SHAK's care. She is improving all of the time.

But the operation has certainly improved Lilly’s fortunes.

He said: “She did have an understandably restless night after such big surgery, but she looked remarkably brighter the following day and she is beginning a new life and a fresh start.”

Lilly stayed with Stephen for a short period of time, while a search was on to find her a permanent forever home.

Stephen said: “The weekend brought an offer of a foster home for Lilly to go to while she recovers fully and while we wait for her biopsy results.

“So, she moved to a more fixed temporary foster home on Tuesday. I miss her being here with me, but it’s an opportunity for her to have more one-on-one time.

“Long-term though, she is still looking for a forever home.”

And Stephen believes she will bring joy to whoever looks after her and those who meet her.

He told the Gazette: “She has been incredible with everyone she has met and loves being around the other dogs.

“There has been lot of interest in her, which has been nothing short of amazing, and everywhere she has gone – including the local pub – she has made new friends.

“She has so much love to give, she will make somebody a wonderful little companion.”

Lilly’s rescue and subsequent transformation is typical of the work that SHAK does.

Thanks to SHAK, the lives of hundreds of dogs have been changed for the better.

The charity has a range of dogs in its care, offering vital sanctuary and aid to the ones that really need it.

SHAK, which receives help from an army of dedicated volunteers, has a headquarters at Greenwell Road, Alnwick, as well as kennels at a rural location outside of the town.

In 2013, SHAK was the beneficiary of the Northumberland Gazette’s Jam Jar Army campaign, which helped to raise more than £15,000 for the cause.

For more information about the charity, including how to volunteer or offer donations, visit www.shak.org.uk

Or to inquire about fostering Lilly, or any other dogs in SHAK’s care, send an email to foreverfoster@shak.org.uk

Regarding a potential legal case against Lilly’s former owner, a county council spokeswoman said: “All we can say at present is that there is an ongoing investigation.”