Four-year-old crossbreed Ruby has cropped ears and RSPCA staff were concerned that the cruel procedure – illegal in the UK due to the lifelong health, welfare and behaviour implications it can have – would cause her problems finding a new home.
But they didn’t realise it would be her bizarre eating disorder that would make it tough to match her with the right owner.
Emily Daffern, from RSPCA Gonsal Farm Animal Centre, in Shropshire, is taking care of Ruby while she looks for a new home.
Emily said: “When Ruby first came into our care she was the sweetest girl and, despite having ears that had been cruelly cropped in her past, she luckily had no health or behavioural problems, aside from some skin sensitivities.
“Unfortunately her first adoption did not go well although the adoptive family seemed a good match, it ended up being a very stressful environment for her and she returned to our care.
"As soon as she came back to us she wasn’t the fun, bubbly girl we’d known before. We were all heartbroken that, somehow, it had gone so wrong. She’s had to go onto a behaviour modification plan to help her learn to trust people again and has also developed pica; a strange disorder in which she eats non-edible items.”
She has needed two operations to remove foreign objects from her intestines and staff can now only give her soft bedding and toys to play with when they’re with her to supervise.
“We don’t know exactly what the cause of this pica is. Ruby has had medical and behavioural assessments to try to establish this as well as medications to help manage it but none have given us a conclusive diagnosis as to why she does this. Sadly, we expect it’s a learned coping mechanism that she developed when she was stressed in her previous home,” Emily added.
“She’ll need a special home with an owner who understands this condition and can help to manage it. We hope that, eventually, when she’s less stressed she will gradually stop doing it.”
Staff would like to find Ruby a home with a patient owner who is home most of the time so they can supervise her with items around the house, as well as with her own bedding and toys. She’ll need a calm, adult-only home where she’s the only pet to ensure stress levels are kept to a minimum.
She’s an active girl who absolutely loves going for walks and snoozing in the sun so she’d like a secure garden space where she can potter and play, as well as owners who can commit to lots of exercise. She walks nicely on the lead and mixes well with other dogs but can sometimes be boisterous so will need an owner who can help learn how to interact appropriately when meeting doggy friends.
“Ruby loves her food and will do anything for it so she’ll be easy to train,” Emily added. “She absolutely loves toys and boxes, but obviously needs to be supervised when she’s playing as we don’t want any further vet visits!
“She’s an absolute sweetheart and is such a gem who deserves a special home where she can come out of her shell and truly shine. We’d initially like to find her a foster family as we help her settle in with a view to permanent adoption should everything go well so ideally we’d be looking for someone who lives within an hour of the centre.”
To find out more about Ruby please visit her online profile or contact Gonsal Farm on 0300 123 0753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.