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BC SPCA removes homemade muzzle from Vernon German shepherd

A Vernon German shepherd lost its tail due to "happy tail" syndrome and also had a homemade muzzle removed
A German shepherd from Vernon was brought to the BC SPCA wearing a homemade muzzle and with "happy tail" syndrome, which resulted in the loss of the tail.

The happy tail was anything but for Jade the German shepherd.

The BC SPCA first heard about Jade’s poor condition, as named by BC SPCA staff, when they were approached by the Regional District of North Okanagan animal control who had been contacted by the dog’s owner in Vernon. He wanted to surrender Jade because her tail was in terrible shape, and he could not afford the veterinary costs to treat it.

“We worked with animal control and suggested the owner contact the BC SPCA’s helpline to begin the process to surrender the dog,” said Nicholas Weeda, the BC SPCA’s community services coordinator for Vernon. “Once the paperwork was filed, I was able to pick up Jade and coordinate the surrender to the BC SPCA’s Kelowna animal centre. I immediately noticed she had a sock and duct tape around her snout and head as a makeshift muzzle and her tail was in horrible condition.”

The owner stated he had put the homemade muzzle on Jade to prevent her from licking or biting her tail.

BC SPCA senior officer of protection and stakeholder relations, Eileen Drever, said a homemade muzzle should never be used for any reason.

"In this situation a dog collar cone is the only suitable option to prevent the dog from licking or biting their tail," said Drever. "Muzzles are solely meant to prevent scavenging for food or other objects from the ground or from biting.”

Drever adds the most humane muzzles are basket muzzles made of rubber, plastic, or metal, placed over a dog's snout that allows them to drink water and pant to cool down and should only be used for short periods. They should not be used for behavioural issues or compromised welfare.

“When Jade came into the animal centre, we were concerned by the muzzle, and the ‘happy tail’ syndrome,” said Shannon Paille, manager of the BC SPCA’s Kelowna animal centre. Happy tail syndrome occurs when dogs wag their tail with so much force that they injure them. The injury can range from bruising to tissue damage.

“Jade’s happy tail syndrome was on the severe end of the spectrum,” said Paille. “Her tail would not stop bleeding and the bone was exposed.” The muzzle was promptly removed at the animal centre and Jade was brought to a veterinary clinic for treatment of her tail. 

Upon further examination at the clinic, it was determined that the injury to Jade’s tail was so serious it would require amputation and she was scheduled for surgery. It was also determined that Jade had allergies and would require a special diet and regular medicated bathing. She will also need spay surgery.

“Jade is super affectionate and loves to be petted and scratched on her forehead, she will push her face into you to make sure you do it,” says Paille. “She is very sweet and wants attention and affection from everyone she meets.” Paille adds that Jade is a very smart girl who is eager to learn commands. “She is super gentle and just wants to give and receive love.”

Jade is currently recovering at the Kelowna animal centre. She will be available for adoption in approximately one week.

If you can help Jade and other animals in need at the BC SPCA, please visit

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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