GREAT FALLS — Animal advocates are making a passionate plea for dog owners to know proper collar care after a recent rescue along the Hi-Line.
PAWS of Chinook and Blaine County Vet Service are caring for a dog now affectionately known as “Mollo.”
“Once I saw her I said, 'oh, she looks like a marshmallow.' One of my favorite movies growing up was 'The Sandlot' and they used to call them mallows,” explained Dr. Seth Phillips of Blaine County Vet Service.
Mollo’s surroundings look much different now than they did just a couple of weeks ago. She’s on the road to recovery, but it hasn’t been an easy journey.
"When we arrived she was just laying by a fence, she wouldn't look at us, she wouldn't respond. We couldn't tell exactly what the problem was, we could just tell that her neck looked pretty gory,” explained Alissa Hewitt of PAWS of Chinook.
Hewitt said PAWS of Chinook received a message that Mollo’s family had moved away from Fort Belknap eight months prior and abandoned her. Hewitt said Mollo wasn’t tied up when she was found, but she had a heavy metal clasp and cable tied to her collar.
Mollo is now estimated to be around one and a half years old. At the time she was abandoned, she was wearing a puppy-sized collar.
"What happened was the skin grew through the buckle of the collar and turned into a big mass,” Hewitt explained.
“As she was growing, the collar wasn’t growing with her. So her skin decided, ‘Well, we’re just going to keep growing’, and ended up through the buckle and then it started growing its own vascularization and forming what we call a granuloma,” Phillips said.
Dr. Phillips believes the issue with collar size started well before Mollo was abandoned.
"That's how her body adapted to having a collar that was too tight for too long. So we wanted to get that collar off. Just the smell, you could tell there was infection. I wanted to avoid the possibility of sepsis so we removed the mass and removed the rest of the collar. Got her clipped and cleaned really nice,” Phillips said.
Mollo is now on antibiotics and her wound is healing. Thankfully the ill-fitting collar didn’t cause internal damage. "This didn't happen overnight, it's not going to heal overnight,” Phillips said.
Mollo, who is described as a sweetheart by caretakers, is slowly warming to people.
Hewitt said right now, there’s no justice for Mollo and no accountability for what happened to her. "I think conversations need to be started about this because somebody did put on a collar on this puppy at this time and never changed it. They knew there was a problem and just never changed it. And that’s inexcusable,” shared Hewitt.
She made a passionate plea for people to be vigilant and learn about animal cruelty laws.
"If you don't like the laws that are in place in your locality go to your city councils meetings, go to your county commissioners meetings, go to state meeting if you're around those areas and start working on getting those changed because until that changes the animal control officers, the police officers, sheriff's department they're doing what they're allowed to do. So until those laws change, this will keep happening,”
PAWS of Chinook and Dr. Phillips want to use Mollo's story to educate people about simple steps to ensure a dog's collar is fits correctly.
"As the puppy grows or the dog grows or gains weight or anything like that, you see constant need to change the collar. My rule is the two-finger rule. If you can fit two fingers underneath the collar without chocking the dog or making it cough or anything like that, then that’s pretty comfortable.”
Mollo is staying at Blaine County Vet Service until space is available at the Paws of Chinook site. Vet bills are adding up for Mollo, if you'd like to help in her recovery, contact PAWS of Chinook or call Blaine County Vet Service at 406-357-2279.