Er Mao, a 1 year old pet dog has made an incredible recovery after he was shot some 50 times with pellet guns by staff at an airport in May. The Golden Retriever jumped with joy as he saw his long-expected owner at a vet in China this week. The airport, in Wuhan, China, claimed they had to take action after Er Mao escaped onto the runway while being loaded off from a plane. However, Er Mao’s owner and animal lovers have called the incident ‘shocking’ and ‘inexcusable’.
The dog then had to undergo three operations to have dozens of pellets removed from his body. The dog was still on his way to a full recovery, but he couldn’t be happier when he finally saw his owner, Zuo Wei. Mr. Zuo said Er Mao had been extremely strong during the difficult medical treatment, and now the pet is finally ready to go home with him. The young man who is an engineer, said he moved from Shanghai to Wuhan two months ago and decided to bring the pet with him.
He travelled with Er Mao on a flight by China Eastern Airlines on May 24 and had arranged the dog to be flown in cargo. Mr Zuo said he would never forget the moment when the staff of Wuhan Tianhe Airport handed Er Mao to him in the wee hours of May 25. The dog was heavily wounded, but the airport provided no explanations. By then, Mr Zuo had been expecting to pick up the dog at the collection point for around three hours.
Mr Zuo immediately took Er Mao to the vet at around 4am. Medical scans revealed that Er Mao had around 50 lead pellets stuck in various parts of his body – and one in his brain. He was also blinded in one eye by a pellet. In May and June, Er Mao underwent three surgical operations. Vets tried to remove as many pellets as possible. They pinpointed the locations of the pellets through X-ray scans before operating on the animal.
There are still nine pellets remaining inside Er Mao’s body – including the one that shot through his eye and became lodged in the brain. The vets said they were too risky to operate on, according to Mr Zuo. The man said he was determined to provide the best treatment for his ‘companion’, which he bought nine months ago for 1,000 yuan (£113). Mr Zuo moved from Wuhan in central China to Guangzhou in southern China temporarily. He found Er Mao a vet who had experience removing more than 10 steel rods from a cat.
“The vet told me Er Mao was recovering well and was ready to go home. I can take him back in about a week,” Mr Zuo said. Neither Wuhan Tianhe Airport or China Eastern Airlines has apologised to him, but the airline has paid for Er Mao’s medical bills, which was around 60,000 yuan (£6,819), according to Mr Zuo. For Er Mao, the road to a full recovery is still long. The Golden Retriever is suffering from high levels of lead in his blood, which could lead to serious illness if left untreated.
Mr Zuo said he was worried about the condition after receiving a report from the LABOKLIN, a laboratory specialized in clinical diagnostic tests for pets. “The average lead level is 5.0. Er Mao’s is 7.72. I hope vets, especially vets in the West, could help me find the best treatment for Er Mao’s high lead levels in the blood. I also want to find out where I could buy the medicines (for the condition) and how I can buy them.”
Wuhan Tianhe International Airport confirmed the incident in a statement on May 28. The airport said that China Eastern Airlines resorted them for help on May 24 after failing to catch an escaped dog on the runway. The airport sent eight officers to find the dog. The statement also said that the dog, which was one-metre-tall (three feet), was terrified and ‘not approachable’. As a result, officers ‘brought it under control’ according to rules issued by the Civil Aviation Bureau of China.
Er Mao’s story has tugged on the heartstrings of millions of people in China. Thousands of web users have criticized the airport and the airline on social media, and many people have gone to see Er Mao at the vet in Guangzhou. Animal rights groups have been shocked by the incident, too.Humane Society International said the airport’s treatment of the dog was ‘inexcusable’. The organization said ‘all airline passengers, whether on two legs or four, deserve the same respectful and professional treatment’. It also called for China to improve its animal-protection law.