Update #1 ·




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* here the autopsy on Puppy doe. 

Part one..

 On September 6 and 11, 2013 I radiographed and examined the remains of a young adult female pit bull type dog, white with brown brindle markings, at the request of Lt. Alan Borgal of the Law Enforcement Department of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. 

On August 31, 2013 the dog had been presented to VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in Weymouth by the Quincy animal shelter for exam after having been found on or near Carroll’s Lane, Quincy. 

After veterinary evaluation, the dog was humanely euthanized at VCA and the remains were frozen. 

On September 3rd the dog’s body was transferred to the Animal Rescue League of Boston and thawed in a refrigerated setting. Radiographs were performed by me on September 6, 2013 and I performed a post mortem examination of the remains on September 11, 2013. 

The dog weighed 18.2#. I estimate that a normal healthy weight for a dog of her size to be about 40#. Although described as an 18 week old puppy in the VCA South Shore veterinary hospital records, this dog was a young adult as evidenced by full dentition with a light accumulation of dental calculus and the lack of open epiphyseal plates (growth plates). 

The light calculus accumulation is commonly seen in cases of starvation. The enamel itself still retained a bright white color, reflecting a young adult dog, with an estimated age of one to two years old. 

The dog’s body was in a poor, emaciated condition, scoring 1 out of a possible 9 on the Purina Body Condition scale where a 4 or a 5 is ideal, 1 is emaciated and 9 is obese. (“Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all bonyprominences evident from a distance. No discernible body fat. Obvious loss of muscle mass.”) 

This is the skinniest score on the scale. 

She has a severe abdominal tuck and an extreme hourglass shape to her waist. Her stomach is full of kibble from a recent antimortem meal fed at the hospital and her colon contains normally formed stool. 

Her toenails were severely overgrown, with pointy tips curling under with the white keratin cuticle of the claw extending 1 to 1.4 cm beyond the quick in the right front, left front and right rear feet. The left rear foot demonstrated a more normal nail wear pattern. 

There are a number of areas over bony prominences where the fur is worn away from pressure. These pressure scars are located over the right zygomatic arch (cheekbone), the right scapular spine (shoulder blade), the right carpus (wrist), and the right lateral elbow. 

The hair coat was dirty and her body had a distinctive odor of stale urine. There were two distinct and unique lesions on the nasal planum (the flat of the nose, below the nostrils) consistent with burns, either thermal or chemical in origin. 

They measure approximately 1 cm in diameter and are ulcers in healing stages. The nasal lesion on the left has an area of actively ulcerated epidermis with a margin of scar tissue of approximately 15 to 40 mm. The nasal lesion on the right is healing scar tissue. 

There are abrasions over the bony prominences on the top of her head. 

The dentition is normal. The tip of the tongue is split along midline in a manner known as “bifid”. A bifid tongue can be a congenital anomaly (birth defect), but in those rare cases the tongue has a complete cleavage, divided with a “V” shaped cleft formed between two equal parts. This split appears to be a healed 2.2 cm incision, with one part contracted and smaller than the other, curling around underneath with apparent scarring. 

There is no dental injury or abnormality, nor are there any injuries or malformation to her lips. The lack of a hallmark of attendant injuries or congenital malformations to the lips or teeth suggest that this serpent-like split to her tongue is non-accidental in origin. 

The right eye has recent and healing incisions (days old) to the upper and lower lids, approximately 6 to 7 mm in height. The incisions are wider at the lid margin and narrow to the tops, consistent with a cutting instrument, and the base of each incision lines up with the other. This is consistent with a sharp blade instrument in vertical orientation being stabbed into the eye. The conjunctiva in that eye socket is hyperemic. 

The integrity of the globe appears intact; the age of the remains precludes evaluation of the cornea for abrasions. There is dried, crusted blood in the fur of the back of her skull at the occipital prominence. The right ear contains abundant black crusty, waxy discharge. 

The left ear is normal. The following abnormalities are evident on radiographs: . a fractured left frontal sinus (skull fracture) . a fractured right frontal bone at zygomatic process (skull fracture) . a fractured left frontal bone at zygomatic process (skull fracture) . periosteal reaction of the top of the head in 2 locations . a fractured and collapsed right cheekbone, fractured left cheekbone . a dislocated right elbow, right carpus (wrist) and right tarsus (ankle) with associated fractures, there is radiographic evidence of infection within the large heel bone of the ankle . a misaligned, overriding diaphyseal fracture of the right femur with a large bony callus . crush fractures of the dorsal spinous processes of the thoracic vertebrae 7, 8 and 9 & the lumbar vertebrae 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 . fractures of ribs 7 & 8 of the right thorax . soft tissue and osseus remodeling and of one toe and comminuted fracture of one long bone in right rear foot . osseus remodeling of one long bone in the left front foot . soft tissue swelling of the right knee . lucent and indistinct head to the left humerus and dislocated shoulder. 

On postmortem evaluation, the luxation of the right hock is found to be old, with no contemporaneous inflammation; the luxation of the right carpus is slightly hemorrhagic, suggesting a resolving injury and the elbow luxation is fresh with frank blood in the joint and bruising of the skin overlying the joint. 

There is a blood clot in her chest cavity and evidence of pulmonary contusions to the lobes of the left lung; these are fresh injuries inflicted within days of her death. 

The rib fractures are callused and mobile. These are older fractures. Chips of sinus bone are found in fibrotic pockets under the skin. 

These pockets are scar tissue which formed around the free fragments of skull bone some time ago. 

In my opinion and with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, this dog suffered from “battered pet syndrome”, a deliberate abuse condition characterized by multiple fractures, dislocations and soft tissue injuries from a variety of causes in a variety of stages of healing. 

The orthopedic evidence suggests she suffered violent and forceful events of non-accidental origin (fractures, dislocations, bone remodeling in response to trauma, suggestions of bone infections due to repeated trauma) at 24 distinct and associated sites over a period of months to years. 

Periosteal reaction of bone at the top of the head and left humerus are suggestive of old and repetitive trauma. The blood clot in her thorax is an indication of recent blunt force trauma to her chest. The more recent soft tissue injuries, and elbow injury are days old, and other bony and soft tissue injuries are of varying ages. 

The split to the tongue is suggestive of a healed, non-accidental injury. The burns to the nose and stab wound to the eye are distinct injuries. 

The predominantly right sided pressure scars, the right ear infection, overgrown toenails and urine stench suggest the ..dog was non-ambulatory and in right lateral recumbancy for protracted period of time. 

There is further evidence that this dog was deprived of adequate nutrition (starved); she ate food well when offered at the hospital, and she apparently performed normal digestive processes. The severe muscle wasting and lack of body fat stores noted grossly indicate a prolonged period of negative energy balance and undernutrition. 

Because of her poor nutritional plane, fracture healing was likely delayed. 

The lack of evident disease in the internal organs indicate an exogenous cause of the emaciated state and her willingness to eat also denies the existence of a disease induced anorexia. Starvation implies intent, the willful withholding of food. Intent cannot be determined by the necropsy exam. 

However, intent can be inferred by circumstantial evidence such as signs of concurrent abuse. 

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore 

Vice President of Animal Welfare Animal Rescue League of Boston



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