By Janene Scully, Noozhawk North County Editor

A puppy taken to an emergency pet hospital has undergone surgery for a severe wound to its muzzle, raising questions about how the injury occurred.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services staff posted about the plight of the puppy, since named Koa, on social media Thursday, asking for information about the dog’s past and donations for its care.

The dog was taken to PETS Hospital in Orcutt on Tuesday night.

“The person who took her there was very vague,” said Jennifer Adame from Animal Services.

The woman claimed the dog was found in Lompoc, but provided apparently false information since no one at the address was familiar with either the woman or the puppy.

“She’s a lovely little dog,” Adame said. “In any case, we’re happy that she’s with us and she’s getting the care that she needs now.”

The veterinary staff realized the dog’s wound stemmed from a rubber band that apparently had cut into the top part of her muzzle.

“It was so deeply embedded that its little nose was super swollen and they couldn’t even see the rubber band. They knew it was a ligature injury,” Adame said.

Once the dog received pain medication, veterinary staff looked in her mouth, saw the rubber band and were able to remove it.

To help with healing, the dog underwent surgery to remove the dead tissue and close the wound at the Buellton Veterinary Clinic.

“She’ll likely going to need multiple surgeries,” Adame said. 

A badly docked tail, likely done at home and not by professional staff, also required medical care, she added.

The puppy has received pain medication, antibiotics and tender loving care, but is eating well.

“It’s hard to tell at this point what the final outcome will be but everybody’s hopeful about it,” Adame said. 

Animal Services staff believe the dog is around eight to 12 weeks has old and some sort of mixed breed including terrier and, based on her coloring, possibly Queensland heeler. 

“She’s a sweet and precious dog,” Adame said. “She is so loving. You would think that with this painful injury and everything she’s been through she would be scared, timid, maybe even snap, not want people touching her.

“All she wants to do is snuggle and give you kisses and love. Her personality is just absolutely wonderful,” Adame added. “She’s adorable.”

Animal Services staff hope members of the public might recognize the dog as belonging to a neighbor or even know what litter it came from in an effort to track down how the dog became injured.

“We don’t have the whole story and we’re looking to the public to fill in the blanks for us,” Adame said.

Anyone with information about the puppy’s past can contact Animal Services by calling 805.934.6119, ext. 7. 

“Our team saves lives every day but we will never get used to seeing an animal that has been abused! We need your help to ensure whoever did this is held accountable,” Animal Services staff said in a Facebook post.

To help with complicated medical cases, the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation accepts donations to help pay for costly care of shelter animals. Tax-deductible donations may be made by clicking here.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at