'His fur saved his life': Pup thrown into firepit by kids

A puppy named Polo is in emergency care for multiple burns on its body after being thrown into a firepit by children.

Polo, about 8 months old, was rushed to Tuxedo Animal Hospital to be treated

Polo was rushed to Winnipeg on Monday after the pup was burned by some kids on Red Sucker Lake First Nation. (Katie Powell/Save A Dog Network Canada)

A puppy named Polo is in emergency care for multiple burns on its body after being thrown into a firepit by children.

"He managed to survive but is badly burned," said Katie Powell, founder of Save A Dog Network Canada, a Winnipeg-based organization that took the dog into care after it was flown in from Red Sucker Lake First Nation.

The fire caused second-degree burns on Polo's paws, nose, mouth, testicles and belly. The dog also has a swollen throat and lungs. (Save a Dog Network Canada/Facebook)

"In the past two years, I've been a part of well over 1,000 rescues involving dogs, [but] you can never prepare yourself for these types. He is in bad shape right now."

The fire singed away so much of Polo's hair, it's difficult to tell what kind of breed or mix the dog is. Some hair melted against its skin, causing burn lesions.

Polo is now being treated at the Tuxedo Animal Hospital in Winnipeg. (Save a Dog Network Canada/Facebook)

"He has second-degree burns on his nose, mouth, paws, testicles and belly — the good majority of his body that was not covered in hair. He also has a swollen throat and lungs," Powell said, adding Polo's eyes have ulcers from smoke damage. 

"His fur saved his life. If he had a short coat, he would have died."

Despite the dog's condition and what happened, Polo still seems to have trust, she said.

"He tried a tail wag, but he's weak," Powell said.

The incident happened Sunday night on the First Nation, about 535 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. Powell isn't clear on the circumstances but was told some kids, age 10 to 12, picked up and threw Polo into the fire.

Polo's family called Powell's group and arrangements were made to get the pup flown to Winnipeg as soon as possible. Polo, who is about eight months old, arrived Monday and was rushed to Tuxedo Animal Hospital.

Manitoba RCMP said no one reported the incident to them, but they are aware of it and have begun investigating. 

Powell said the band council and the school principal have been told about the incident, but she is not focused on following up on what may or may not happen to the kids.

"Our focus is on how Polo was saved because of the amazing people who live in that community — those who reacted so quickly to contact us," she said.
A puppy named Polo is in emergency care for multiple burns on its body after being thrown into a firepit by children in Red Sucker Lake First Nation. 0:31

"Naturally, my first thought is anger. For obvious reasons, I am mad, because this poor innocent dog has suffered for no real reason. Secondly, I feel pain. Pain for our little guy, but more pain for the family of this dog.

"The most concerning part of this is the humans that felt it was OK to inflict such pain on an animal."

She said her group has worked hard to establish relationships in First Nations communities, many of which struggle with an overpopulation of roaming and unwanted dogs, which can form packs and become aggressive.

Many First Nations struggle with an overpopulation of roaming and unwanted dogs, which can form into packs and become aggressive. (Katie Powell/Save A Dog Network Canada)

Save A Dog Network Canada has been trying to get at the root of the problem by supporting the communities through veterinary services such as spaying and neutering, as well as educating people about properly caring for pets.

The group also transports sick, injured and unwanted dogs to Winnipeg, where they can be dewormed, vaccinated and sent to new families.

"It's about building trust and respecting each other. Animal cruelty happens everywhere, but these communities are places where our support is needed most," said Powell, who first met Polo at a clinic on the reserve when the pup was eight weeks old.

"There are many people who want to see change. If we hadn't built those relationships, we never would have heard about what happened to Polo.

Polo's hair was singed off by the fire. (Katie Powell/Save A Dog Network Canada)

"We are so thankful this family has done the right thing and reached out for help. He's been given a chance because of that."

Once Polo is better, a new home will be found for the dog, which is what the family in Red Sucker Lake has asked for, Powell said.

"It's heartbreaking for them, but it's what they feel is right for him."

Now donations are needed for Polo's care, said Powell.

"It will be a long road ahead, but we are in this 100 per cent with him. He's a fighter. We're ready to do this," she said.