Dog requires surgery to remove embedded choke chain from its neck

A Yellowknife veterinarian had to surgically remove a choke chain from a dog's neck this week after it was left tied up so long its flesh had grown around the chain.

'Dogs have high pain tolerance but ... that would have been excruciating:' NWT SPCA president

This husky, left, was found wandering in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, with a choke chain embedded in its neck. The NWT SPCA has named it Rohkea, which means Brave. (submitted by Nicole Spencer)

A Yellowknife veterinarian had to surgically remove a metal choke chain from a dog's neck this week in what appears to be a disturbing case of animal neglect.

"It was like a surgical implant," said Dr. Tom Pisz about the chain.

N.W.T. SPCA president Nicole Spencer said the two-year-old husky was sent to the Great Slave Animal Hospital in Yellowknife after it wandered into Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The grandparents of the dog's owner found the animal and alerted local RCMP and the SPCA.

Spencer said it's believed the husky was tied up at a cabin over the summer and left there until he broke free. She said the chain likely became embedded in the dog's neck as he outgrew the collar. Choke chains are supposed to be used for training purposes only, not to tie dogs up. 

"Just looking at that picture you can only imagine the kind of pain that that would put on the dog," Spencer said.

"It's over weeks and weeks and weeks and there's no way for it to escape it. I mean dogs have high pain tolerance but not for anything like that. That would have been excruciating."

It took veterinarian Tom Pisz two hours to remove the choke chain because he had to cut out flesh from around the chain to extract it. He said it was fortunate that it was a metal chain, as an ingrown leather collar carries a higher risk of infection.

"He must have been there [tied up] for quite awhile because the skin had grown over it and it was completely healed," said Pisz.

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      4th case this year

      Pisz said this is the fourth time this year he has had to treat a dog with a collar embedded in its neck.

      He said the person or people responsible should be held accountable and prosecuted. 

      "It's real neglect and it's animal abuse," said Pisz. 

      Territorial legislation varies, but N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Elenore Sturko said owners that knowingly cause unnecessary suffering to animals can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada.

      "It's taken very seriously. We want to do everything we can in the communities to make sure this type of thing is prevented," she said.

      Anyone convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal could face a jail term or a fine up to $5,000. 

      The SPCA's Spencer said pet owners aren't always held accountable because the current laws make it difficult to prove the owner knew the animal was suffering.

      The husky has been named Rohkea, which means Brave in Finnish. It will spend the next few weeks recovering before being put up for adoption.​