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Left to starve, Great Dane gnaws off his own foot to survive

By Susan Bird From Care2

A South Carolina dog left to starve in his own backyard was in such a desperate state that he gnawed off his own foot.

Luke, a 6-year-old Great Dane, apparently once tried to jump his owners’ fence. In response, they tied him in the backyard on a runner, which is a wire with plastic coating. Somehow, Luke apparently got his leg tangled in the runner.

Unable to extricate himself, and with no help coming from his owners, poor Luke gnawed off the bottom portion of his rear leg.

No one noticed Luke’s distress — probably because no one was feeding or caring for himfor quite some time. He had no water or food dishes near him when police finally found him after a neighbor’s tip.

It’s unclear if he chewed off his foot out of hunger or just to free the leg, but most imagine the worst.

“When I approached the fence I could see a very skinny black Great Dane with an injury to his back right leg,” a police officer wrote in her report. “As he got closer I could see that over half of his leg was gone.”

Luke’s owners couldn’t — or wouldn’t — tell police how long Luke had been tied out in their backyard. They claimed that they’d tried to treat his leg themselves because they couldn’t afford a veterinarian.

When confiscated and taken for veterinary care, Luke weighed a paltry 70 pounds – exactly half the weight of a healthy Great Dane. Heartworm positive, he also has nasal and respiratory issues, a heart murmur and an inflamed bowel brought on by starvation. His long-term mistreatment meant he didn’t understand at first that people were trying to help him.

“Luke was very scared and unsure of people at the time,” Jennifer Smith, president of Noah’s Ark Rescue, told the Huffington Post. “After several days in ICU, we brought him to our rehab facility so he could relax, which made a big difference in his personality. He soon realized we were not going to hurt him.”

Luke remains in critical condition — but Noah’s Ark Rescue, where he’s now rehabbing, says his will to live is incredible.

The Noah’s Ark Rescue Facebook page notes:

He is so starved that it is hard to believe he has the strength to take two steps. He looks like a dog that is not going to live past the end of the day. His eyes are sunken into the back of his eye socket. His nasal cavity and eyes are infected and drain constantly. I have seen a lot of sick dogs but what has happened to Luke is beyond inhumane.

A day after removing Luke from their property, authorities charged his owners Jessica James, 32, and Skyler Craft, 28, with ill treatment of animals on November 20, 2018.

Those caring for Luke say his entire leg will probably have to come off, once he’s strong enough to withstand that surgery.

Noah’s Ark Rescue explains:

Keeping it any longer in hopes we can come up with a prosthetic that might work is too risky. His infection appears to have invaded the bone, and that can cost him his life…. He is strong enough to survive the surgery to remove the leg but not strong enough to withstand the infection if it continues up his leg.

Many people around the world have been moved by Luke’s story. Some commenters on Facebook say their families decided to take all their Christmas money and donate it for Luke’s care rather than exchanging gifts this year. That’s a measure of how much this story touches everyone who reads it.

Luke’s not out of the woods yet by a long shot. You can keep up with his story on Noah’s Ark Rescue’s Facebook page.

We wish you a speedy recovery, Luke. You deserve a comfy home with people who love you. Keep fighting and one day you’ll get exactly that.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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