A Bongo’s Bingo worker whose tiny puppy needed emergency surgery to reattach his jaw after being horrifically mauled by an XL American bulldog has thanked the Warrington veterinary team who saved his life.
Greg McCosker was walking his 11-month-old Miniature Jack Russell, George, in a Liverpool park when the puppy was attacked and his jaw almost completely ripped off after running after another dog.
Veterinary staff at Beech House in Stockton Heath, Warrington, part of the Willows Veterinary Group, operated for four hours to rebuild George’s jaw with the aid of pins and an external metal cage.
The puppy had been referred to their care by another vet because of the specialised treatment surgery they could provide.
Without the experience and expertise of Beech House’s veterinary surgeon Dr Nick Whieldon, Greg said the puppy would not have survived and thanked the team for springing into action.
“Nick did an amazing job on his jaw – you’d never know he was injured at all,” said the 35-year-old from Liverpool, who works at the city’s Bongo’s Bingo.
“They were all fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for anything else. It was such a hard situation for them to deal with, they were just amazing.
“It all happened as I was walking back through Princes Park in Liverpool one evening. I had him off the lead with his harness on, but he suddenly took off and I called after him but being a puppy he didn’t listen, his recall wasn’t the best.
“He passed two XL bulldogs. They were on the lead and basically George got too close and startled them. One of them literally pinned him down and both me and the owner were trying to get him off. I had my hand inside the dog’s mouth and eventually he released him, and George ran away.
“It must’ve been a couple of minutes later that my mate noticed his jaw was completely hanging off from the bottom of his chin. The bone was broken entirely and the whole of my arm was covered in his blood.
“I grabbed his mouth and held it together as best I could and got a plastic bag to cover my arm. We got to a vet but they didn’t have anyone specialised enough to deal with him so they sent him on to Nick at Beech House and I’m so glad they did.
“Nick and the team were able to stabilise him and then he went for the operation. Nick was completely honest and said he couldn’t promise anything or guarantee it would work as one side of his cheek had disintegrated but he was lucky that he was so young. The bone wasn’t fully developed at that stage.”
Head veterinary nurse Nikki Butterworth said George’s jaw was being held together by a muzzle when he arrived at the practice.
“We’ve never seen anything to this extent. He couldn’t have stayed like that and so Nick said it was a severe injury but he would try to fix it,” she said.
“The bottom of his jaw had completely snapped off and was hanging by skin on both sides. As soon as he came in, George just flopped down. He was really quiet and nervous and had been through an awful lot over the previous 24 hours.
“Nick is an orthopaedic surgeon and is qualified to undertake small animal surgery.
“To prepare him for the surgery we had to shave his whole head before Nick fitted an external fixator which is basically support scaffolding over each side of his jaw to hold the bone together in the right place until it heals.
“The pins go into the skin at a 90-degree angle and George had to walk around with them for six weeks to allow the bone to heal, taking care not to dislodge them.
“It was a long procedure. He had a feeding tube fitted in the side of his neck to prevent him using his jaw and he was put on a liquid recovery diet. After the operation, he quickly became a puppy again.
“Over the next six weeks, he actually healed really well. He was only nine months old at the time and his owner was really good at keeping him still. Once it was healed, he had to have another operation to remove the fixator and the pins.
“He may need to have some teeth removed in the future as he matures but otherwise he looks great and everything is fine and he was happy to come back and see us and you wouldn’t know anything had happened to him.
“The last time he came in he sat on our knees in reception and wasn’t scared or traumatised at all.”
Nick said: “George had very severe and extensive injuries. His lower jaw was fractured in two places and segments of loose bone had broken away and the soft tissues under his chin were very badly damaged and infected.
“Treatment was always going to be challenging, but we decided to reconstruct the bone of the jaw using a frame built around both sides of the face.
“It took quite some time and was complicated by the fact some pieces of the bone had broken off, rather like trying to put together an incomplete jigsaw puzzle.
“After the bone was repaired we had to reconstruct the damaged soft tissues around the bone and inside the mouth.
“This was again painstaking, but the result was as good as we could have wished for.
“Thankfully George was a lovely dog, and very tolerant of the treatment. Despite everything that he has been through, it has been a pleasure to treat him at the clinic.”
Greg hasn’t taken action to find the owner of the dog and said it had been a lesson learnt: “At the end of the day, it is my fault. My dog was off the lead,” he said.
“George stays on the lead now and in a couple of months we’re starting dog training to work on his recall. He’s made a full recovery which is unbelievable.