Ray Ray, an 8-year-old dog, was so morbidly obese he could barely walk. And though the SPCA of Wake County was helping Ray Ray get healthy again, it may have been too late.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share that Ray Ray the dog passed away on Sunday afternoon due to a sudden and unexpected deterioration of his condition and a cardiovascular heart, lung, or circulatory event,” said Tara Lynn, SPCA spokeswoman.
Ray Ray had been making good progress on a veterinarian-supervised weight loss plan, Lynn said. But it’s unclear if or how the abuse he suffered might have played a role in his death.
Ray Ray was adopted as a puppy from the Wake County Animal Control shelter, but he recently was found abandoned in Wake Forest and barely able to lift himself up. The shelter tried to find Ray Ray’s adopter to get more information, but the person’s phone number was disconnected.
It’s not clear how Ray Ray got so heavy, but when he got to the SPCA shelter from the county shelter, he weighed 92 pounds, Lynn said. A dog his size should weigh about 40 pounds.
The neglect of Ray Ray constitutes animal cruelty, said SPCA staff veterinarian Anna Boswell.
“This is absolutely a lethal condition,” Boswell said. “He cannot gain weight. I wish we could prosecute someone for this.”
Ray Ray enjoyed time in the sunshine, love, play time and hours of care from a devoted staff, Lynn said. His condition was constantly monitored, and his veterinary check-ins on both Saturday and Sunday showed no symptoms of acute distress.
Sunday afternoon, Ray Ray was resting in his kennel when his breathing became labored. Staff immediately called the veterinarian to return, Lynn said, and animal care staff members sat with Ray Ray in his kennel to comfort him.
“Within minutes of the first onset of acute symptoms, Ray Ray took his last breath in the arms of our staff,” Lynn said. “He was loved until the very end.”
While Ray Ray did not reach the happy ending of finishing his weight loss journey and being adopted, the SPCA did make sure he was comfortable and happy at the end of his life, Lynn said.
“I am glad he is not in pain. It is sad because he was making such good progress, but I’m happy we were able to give him a great last few weeks,” said Melanie DeLoach, SPCA animal care and behavior supervisor. “To be a part of Ray Ray’s story, to try to make a difference is extremely rewarding. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Ray Ray’s story is a reminder that animal cruelty and abuse comes in many forms, Lynn said. For Ray Ray, the lack of any medical care and extreme neglect ultimately cost him his life.
“Death is all too often the direct result of animal cruelty and neglect,” said Mondy Lamb, SPCA development director. “We just don’t get to tell that story. Most of the time, the animal suffers and dies at the hands of their abuser and never gets help in time, or the SPCA of Wake County is so good at healing these victims that their ending is often upbeat.”
But the sad stories are the most important to share, Lynn said, even if they’re the hardest to hear.
“What matters most is that we keep fighting the good fight,” she said. “Like any fight, there are times when we will lose, and times when we will lose animals in which we have invested so much love and care. At the end of the day, what matters is that we are here for the animals who need us and that we continue to fight for them. That we always, always, always, fight for them.”
To donate to the SPCA of Wake County, go to http://bit.ly/2nyjHDR.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett