Every year we conduct a nationwide search for the PDSA Pet Survivor of the Year: the pet that has faced the worst injury or illness – yet lived to ‘tell the tail’. This leads to an avalanche of extraordinary stories featuring courageous pets, doting owners and brilliant vets. Our panel of judges, including vets, pet lovers and well-known faces, have the tough task of short-listing a small group of miracle pets to take part in a public vote.
Last year, pet lovers throughout the UK voted in droves for their favourite story of death-defying survival against the odds. The winner of the title PDSA Pet Survivor of 2014 was the brave and beautiful Saluki-Lurcher, Dylan.
Two year-old Dylan was found starving and just hours from death, earlier this year. He was suffering the effects of horrendous neglect – severely malnourished, covered in painful sores and mange.
The Pet Survivor Award recognises Dylan’s sheer determination to pull through against all the odds, as well as his owner’s devotion to his care and the dedication of the vet team, who provided his life-saving treatment.
Dylan was nominated for the competition by his now owner, Jamie-Lee Birch, a college lecturer from Gloucester.
Pet Survivor Award winner – Dylan’s story
When poor Dylan was found wandering a secluded country lane in South Wales, he was in a terrible state. He was starving and suffering the effects of horrendous neglect – severely malnourished, covered in painful sores and mange.
Dylan was rescued from the roadside and taken to a local rescue kennels, where he wasn’t expected to last the night. He was later transferred to Hounds First foster home, where the campaign to find him a permanent home really began.
Rachel Hayball from Hounds First said “Dylan had long nails so we know he hadn't been straying for long. The sores on his body looked like kennel sores from lying on a hard floor. If he hadn’t been found that day, he would have died within a day or so.” Dylan’s new owner, Jamie, spotted Dylan’s story on Hounds First’s Facebook page and fell in love with him immediately.
Jamie, said: “Dylan had been very wary of humans while he was being fostered and was, understandably, easily spooked. He had no muscles; his back was still marked with sores and his hair was growing back in wispy patches. The team at Hounds First had to gradually build up his walks from ten minutes to an hour, which helped Dylan to build muscle. His sores dried up and he started to get that sparkle back in his eyes.
“Since coming home with us in September, two months after being found, Dylan’s cheeky side has really started to come out. He loves to steal tea towels and clothes and hide them in his crate. He loves cuddles on the sofa and often has us in stitches with his playful antics.”
PDSA’s Senior Vet and Pet Survivor judge, Elaine Pendlebury, said: “Dylan had such a sad start in life, but all of us judges were so touched at the way he has bounced back, with the help of some very special people, and is able to enjoy life to the fullest.
“The severe weight loss that Dylan suffered from would have been intensely distressing and could have lead to organ failure. It makes me so sad to think that he could have been neglected for a long time. Dylan is a worthy Pet Survivor winner and I wish him all the best for his bright, happy future.”
Jamie, continued: “Dylan is such a boy, loving despite everything he has been through. It’s a miracle that he is able to trust people again. We are so proud that he has won this incredible award and we really feel it’s a tribute to him, but also to all the people who helped him along the way. We are so grateful to everyone who has been part of this journey and it has really reminded us that despite the evil in the world, the world is also full of very kind and selfless people with wonderful hearts and souls.”