Six miracle pets – including a duck who survived a fox attack that ripped her throat open, and a tiny puppy farm victim who went blind and was nearly paralysed – are in the running for PDSA’s Pet Survivor of the Year award.
The fate of these plucky pets with death-defying tales is now in the hands of the public, as they vote for their favourite Pet Survivor story. The annual competition is run by leading vet charity PDSA and entries were received from across the UK. The six finalists were selected by a judging panel which included TV presenter Michaela Strachan, Vet and TV presenter Judy Puddifoot, and Love Island star Kady McDermott.
The finalists were revealed at the National Pet Show in Birmingham at the beginning of November. Watch the pets’ inspiring stories and vote online at www.pdsa.org.uk/petsurvivor.
Michaela Strachan said of this year’s amazing entrants: “All of these stories of survival against the odds are so heart-warming. Choosing just six finalists was really tough. The pets’ fight for life and their owners love, support and incredible devotion is truly remarkable.”
Vet Judy Puddifoot added: “It was an honour to judge such amazing stories, many of whom went through extensive vet treatment following incredibly traumatic experiences. I wish I could’ve given all the pets a prize!”
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “All of this year’s finalists represent exactly what our Pet Survivor competition is all about. Their incredible stories show what an important place our pets hold within our families. Everyone involved with their care have demonstrated true devotion to help support these pets fight for their life.”
Meet this year’s finalists
Custo the Bichon Frise / Cocker Spaniel cross, from Camberley in Surrey
Ten-year-old Custo developed an aggressive type of spleen cancer, which also caused an autoimmune reaction. His body began attacking his own red blood cells, meaning he was unlikely to survive the life-saving operation he needed. He was a whisker from death for a week and needed five blood transfusions. At one point he even went home to spend a ‘final weekend’ with his family, but this seemed to give him renewed hope. After many months of intensive care from specialist vets and his owners, he finally made a full recovery and is still in remission 13 months later.
Jacob the cat from Tilford in Surrey
At 17-years-old Jacob is an elderly feline, but this didn’t stop his owner doing whatever it took to save him. He developed septic peritonitis, which is a severe infection of the abdomen, but was then also diagnosed with pneumonia. Both can be fatal by themselves but together they left the poor puss fighting for his life. He was high-risk for the urgent surgery he needed, but it was his only chance. He required a blood transfusion afterwards and was a death’s door for 10 days, staying at the specialist vet, receiving intensive care. Once home, he still had a feeding tube fitted for six weeks and it took months of recovery. But happily, Jacob has now almost fully recovered from his ordeal.
Milo the Pomeranian from Glasgow
Little Milo was bred by cruel puppy farmers, leaving him with many and varied health issues. He went blind at just a few months old but it was his deformed neck vertebrae that left him crying in pain. He was even in danger of complete paralysis with one wrong turn of his neck. Poor Milo needed six hours of risky specialist surgery to fix his spine – it wasn’t certain he’d survive. But thankfully the surgery was a success and Milo went home for plenty of TLC. After months of careful recuperation he’s now running around like normal.
Mother Duck the Cayuga Duck from Rye in East Sussex
Five-year-old Mother Duck was found bleeding and gasping for life outside her coop following a suspected fox attack. Her neck was ripped open and a call to her vet advised she wasn’t expected to survive. But the matriarch of their duck family simply refused to die, so they knew they had to give her a chance. Their vet came out in the middle of the night and performed two hours of surgery right on the kitchen table. Mother Duck was unable to eat at first but after a week of coaxing, this plucky duck finally started eating by herself and went on to my a miraculous recovery.
Trinny the Fox Terrier from Manchester
Tiny Trinny suffered a ferocious attack by a larger dog. She was left fighting for her life, with deep puncture wounds to her chest and severe lacerations on her shoulder. Trinny’s injuries were so bad that, even if she did survive, she was in danger of losing her leg. Three operations finally managed to save her life, and also her leg, and after months of round-the-clock care at home she is now back on all four paws and fully recovered.
Woody the cat from Battle in East Sussex
Five-month-old kitten Woody returned home one evening with horrendous injuries. His tail was missing and he had a deep slash on his tummy, leaving his insides exposed, plus other wounds to his paws and ears. Woody really was a whisker from death and it took three hours of surgery for his wounds to be painstakingly sewn up. His tail was fully amputated and he needed months of nursing and recovery. But more concerning was the possible cause of his injuries. While some were consistent with a traffic accident, others suggested a more sinister explanation – deliberate mutilation. A police investigation was inconclusive, so the cause will likely remain a mystery, but his owners are just grateful he survived.
Deciding the winner
Voting closes on Sunday 1 December at midnight* and the results will be announced before Christmas. The winner will receive a prestigious trophy, a luxury pet hamper worth £200 (thanks to the competition sponsor, Petsurance by PDSA) and the coveted title of PDSA Pet Survivor 2019.