Puppy from Iran that had acid thrown on her face to have surgery in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — On a chilly January afternoon, Mugsy zipped across a green lawn like a whitish-brown arrow playing catch.

Her owner, Sam Taylor, a resident of Burnaby, B.C., threw a brown, stuffed hedgehog and the seven-month-old pup chased it, tail wagging, just like any other dog would.

But Mugsy is not like any other dog.

“She looks like Voldemort but has the heart of Harry Potter and his friends,” said Taylor with a laugh, as she cuddled the pup.

On Feb. 12, Mugsy will undergo the third surgery of her tiny life to repair damage from acid that was thrown onto her.

This surgery, to take place in Vancouver, will create nostril openings and use the tip of her ear to replace the melted bone and skin on the top of her nose, Taylor said.

The dog will be temporarily blind as the ear is folded over her face and attached over her nose so a blood supply forms from the ear onto the nose, she said, adding that the ear acts as a graft.

The next surgery will attach stents in place of nostrils and unfold the ear, she said.

The two surgeries are expected to cost up to $7,000.

“It’s no guarantee but (the doctor) seemed optimistic,” Taylor said, smoothing the dog’s left ear, which will be used to create the bridge of her nose.

Mugsy was born in Iran, and when she was 40 days old somebody threw acidic cleaner on her face as she played outside. Most of the pup’s face was melted — including her lip, right eye and right ear. Although her Iranian family loved her, they could not afford all the treatment that Mugsy would need, so they decided to put her down.

But at veterinarian’s office in Iran, a volunteer from Persian Paws Rescue and Loved At Last Dog Rescue intervened. She also offered to pay for the Maltese-Japanese spitz mix’s eye removal, which was causing the pup the most pain.

The volunteer was worried about an infection in the dog’s nasal cavity and decided that the best chance for her survival would be if she was adopted by someone in North America who could afford the care, Taylor said.

Last fall, Taylor, who works as a lab assistant at a hospital in downtown Vancouver, was browsing Loved At Last Dog Rescue, which finds homes for local and international stray dogs.

She was looking to make a donation on the site when she saw a blurred-out image that read, “graphic injury.”

“I thought it can’t be that bad,” she said.

She clicked.

“It was very, very graphic. I read her story and just and felt, ‘Oh I really want to help this dog.’”

She thought it over for about an hour — just a donation wouldn’t help because the dog needed surgery not available in Tehran — and then asked her roommate, who agreed to having a dog in the house.

“And I showed her a picture, and she said, ‘Whoa, OK.’”

After filling out an application in late October, Taylor waited for about two months for Mugsy. A family visiting Vancouver brought Mugsy over with them, she said, noting that they had brought over other dogs before.

When Mugsy arrived she was very scared, Taylor said. She barked and howled and didn’t come out of her travelling kennel for about an hour.

And even after she came out, she didn’t eat or drink much.

“But now she’s very spoiled,” Taylor said, holding Mugsy close. “She gets squash and brown rice and sweet potato in her food. She’s pretty well-loved.”

Mugsy was called Hapoochi in Iran, which means tiny puppy, but Taylor said she wasn’t pronouncing the name right so her roommate came up with the name Mugsy.

“She does have the mug for it,” she said, with a chuckle.

Asked why she adopted a dog from another country when there a lot of dogs in Canada that need help, Taylor said it is “incidental” that Mugsy is from Iran.

Once she saw Mugsy on the website, she said she couldn’t stop thinking about her.

“I don’t think animals have boundaries and borders. They don’t have a nationality,” Taylor said. “I can understand if people think it’s a bit corny.”

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