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The Highland Animal Relief Team HART, is a registered charity, operating in the region of Bancroft, Ontario since 1995. HART works to high standards of ethical care for the dogs coming to our rescue door. They are all provided basic and emergency vet care/spay/neuter/socialization, before adoption to very well screened homes. The dogs' needs are met in the interim by caring foster volunteers, in their private homes. Contact number 613-338-3333







Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sophie and Tasha - Update


Two months after Sophie and Tasha were found clinging to life with severe head trauma, the golden sisters continue to make progress in their HART foster home. In the picture above the two sisters both sound asleep. This is how they sleep all the time, curled up on their dog bed, head to head.

The girls were found separately within a short time of each other on March 13, on a country road in Apsley. Sophie, who was found first was taken to Apsley Veterinary Clinic with critical injuries. She was not expected to survive what was initially thought to be injuries sustained from being hit by a car. Later that day, upon further examination and treatment her vet determined that her injuries were not consistent with being hit by a car, but rather with having been struck over the head. A short while after Sophie was found, her sister Tasha was found, also barely alive. She too suffered from head injuries that were not consistent with being struck by a vehicle.

Based on the injuries the girls sustained, their vet has determined that both girls likely received a violent blow to the top of the heads. Both girls suffered injuries only to the top of their heads -- Sophie on the right side, Tasha on her left side. Dogs that have been struck by a vehicle suffer injuries to a larger portion of their body than just an isolated spot on their head. Based on the location of the injuries and the type of injuries their vet has reported to the OPP, the OSPCA and to HART that the injuries that the girls have are consistent with having been beat over the head. Based on these findings this case is being investigated as an animal cruelty case.

Their injuries and road to recovery:

Both girls have made tremendous progress in the 2 months following their injuries. They have received treatments for their injuries multiple times a day for the last 8 weeks, and their vet has come to their foster location frequently to assess and make further treatment recommendations.

8 weeks after the incident, the inflammation in Sophie's head has reduced and a large dent where she was struck is permanently bashed into her skull. Sophie, who was the more severely injured, had multiple skull fractures all around her eye. Her eye was out of the socket when she was found, and remained that way for several days. She has permanently lost vision in her eye, but with extensive medical treatment the eye itself has not needed to be removed. Sophie has also suffered a ruptured eardrum from the blow to her head. As her brain swelled, she suffered extensive bleeding from her nose for days and she became anemic from blood loss. She was unable to use her tongue or her jaw for several days. She has permanent brain damage from the blow and the subsequent swelling. Sophie's gait has been affected and she has some impairment due to her injuries.

In foster care Sophie's progress has been steady, and as her strength returned, she began the long road to good health, and building muscle mass. Sophie, who 8 weeks ago was not expected to survive, is now happily running and playing with the other dogs in her foster home.

Tasha was struck on the left side of her head, and although her injuries were not as severe as Sophie's, she too suffered permanent damage to her eye and had extensive swelling and brain trauma. She was hospitalized for 6 days receiving extensive veterinary care before being moved into foster care. Like Sophie, she was at risk of losing her eye, but fortunately she has also been spared and her eye can be kept. Tasha was affected greatly by her injuries and her progress has been slower than her sister's. Supplements have been given to try to boost her immune system and help her heal. In addition to her injuries, Tasha also suffers from osteoarthritis which was diagnosed a few weeks ago. Her x-rays show moderate degeneration of her joints, and she is undergoing a regimen of exercise, proper diet, supplements and pain meds to try to address this.


On May 3rd Sophie and Tasha both underwent spay surgery. Given their age and body condition it was expected that they would require 4 weeks to recover from their surgery. We are happy to report that the girls are both ahead of schedule in their recovery and will be able to resume full activity at the 2 weeks mark.

The sisters, litter-mates who will be 8 years old this summer, have lived their entire lives together, and in sanctuary care with HART they will remain together. They have settled into their foster home and are happy to be members of their foster pack.

The Criminal Investigation:

In the days that followed the girls' injuries, their original owner was located and the story of what happened to the girls started to come together. Being careful not to impede the ongoing criminal investigation, HART has refrained from making public any information about this case or the suspects involved. We have presented only basic facts, and called on the public to come forward to the OPP or CrimeStoppers with any information they have regarding this case, to facilitate the police's investigation.

Information has been spotty and inconsistent, but tips continue to come in. Although we believe we know who was involved in this crime, there is a lack of concrete information and the criminal investigation is still ongoing. We still do not know exactly what happened that day -- but someone does. Our hope is that someone will come forward with the information needed to find justice for the girls, and to help prevent future violent acts in our community.

What can you do?

We are asking the public to please come forward if you have information about what happened to Sophie and Tasha. Tips can be called into CrimeStoppers 1-800-222-TIPS or the OPP. We are confident that with the public's assistance, the police will be able to get to the bottom of this crime. Someone knows what happened....please, come forward.

Speak out against cruelty to animals, and help give a voice to defenseless victims in our community. Spread the word that violent crimes against animals are being committed in our small community and that we all have to work together to put an end to it. Turning a blind eye does nothing to stop cruelty. If you witness cruel or violent actions directed towards animals, please report it to the police. Violence against animals is a criminal offense. Studies have shown that there is a strong link between violence to animals and directed towards people. Take action, and speak out against all forms of violence in your community.

Volunteer for HART. We are always in need of volunteers to help in a number of capacities -- from fund-raising to fostering. Contact us and get involved!

Donations to help cover the cost of care for Sophie and Tasha are needed. HART is a registered charity, and a tax receipt will be issued for your kind donation. You can make donations online at www.hartanimalrelief.ca or cheques payable to HART can be sent to HART PO Box 1713 Bancroft, ON K0L 1C0