Two year old Dexter came within a whisker of being killed as the shot went straight through his head and exited out of the back of the neck. Bits of metal were left in Dexter’s skull as the pellets fractured his jaw and left a huge wound in the roof of his mouth. A combination of veterinary skill and owners’ devotion, along with Dexter’s indomitable spirit, has seen him return home and be back to his playful best.
As Dexter was presented with his trophy today, owner Ruth Lewis, from Redruth, Cornwall, said: “Incredibly, Dexter is now set to make a full recovery, and to look at him you’d never know anything had happened.
"It’s been a terrifying ordeal for all of us, we’re still recovering emotionally from what happened, but Dexter’s patient determination has been an inspiration. We’re amazed at how well he has healed and recovered.
“I entered Dexter in the competition thinking it would be a nice way to recognise his incredible bravery, but I never expected him to win. I’m over the moon, it’s an amazing end to what has been an incredibly difficult year for us all.
"Thanks so much to our vets, and to PDSA for recognising our little miracle cat like this.”
Dexter - Pet Survivor of the Year after he was shot (Image: PDSA)
Pet Survivor Dexter inspects his trophy and owners Ruth and John Lewis (Image: PDSA)
There were signs that something was terribly wrong when Dexter returned home one morning in July covered in blood and dragging his leg. He was icy cold and struggling to breathe.
At first, the owners feared he had been attacked by a fox or badger and he was rushed to vets with Mrs Lewis clutching him wrapped in a blanket.
After being stabilised, x-rays revealed the horrific injury Dexter had suffered. He had been shot, possibly by an airgun, and left with a large wound in the roof of his mouth.
It was another tragic chapter in Dexter’s life, having passed through several homes as a kitten before being adopted by Ruth and John Lewis.
Vet Jemma Gough, at Animal Services in Hayle, described his injuries: “Dexter’s lower jaw was fractured and an exit wound was visible at the back of his neck, while other pieces of metal ’shrapnel’ were scattered through his head and neck.
Pet Survivor came within a whisker of death (Image: PDSA)
Pet Survivor Dexter's body imagery shows how sellers peppered his head (Image: PDSA)
"He wasn’t even able to walk, so how he’d dragged himself home was a mystery.
“The team at Animal Vets are all so proud of Dexter and how well he has done. Throughout the entirety of his treatment he has been a pleasure to care for, and the brilliant outcome we are seeing pays homage to his resilience, and the true dedication of his owners.
"Dexter is a real character, and well deserving of this recognition. I’m sure his Christmas hamper will go down a treat.”
Dexter’s recovery has required expert veterinary care with fears that his injuries were so bad he would die or never be able to walk again.
A special fixator had to be attached to his jaw, meaning his owners had to hand feed him for several weeks.
The damage to the roof of his mouth also needed specialist surgery, using healthy tissue to close the gap. Again his owners had to tube feed him over two weeks.
Dexter's owners Ruth and John Lewis receive award from PDSA Vet Robert Newcombe (Image: PDSA)
PDSA senior vet Sean Wensley described why Dexter was a worthy winner of the veterinary charity’s prestigious award after a national public vote.
He said: “After an uncertain start in life Dexter found a loving home, only to suffer at the hands of those who mindlessly inflict harm on people’s pets.
"It is thanks to the skill and dedication of veterinary professionals that Dexter’s fortunes are, once again, turned around.
"As ever, this was in partnership with his committed and caring owners and, between them, they have achieved this award-winning recovery, giving him the chance of many happy years ahead.”
The PDSA Pet Survivor title is awarded to an animal who has triumphed over adversity because of their survival spirit, owners' dedication, and the skill and expertise of the vets and nurses who saved their lives.
Dexter and his owners have received a trophy, certificate and a luxury Christmas pet hamper.
Dexter inspects his winner's hamper (Image: PDSA)
There were three other finalists in the running for this year’s Pet Survivor title:
• Brandy the Staffie from South East London who had an 11-inch stick lodged through her throat and chest after a game of fetch went disastrously wrong
• Maximus the grey cat from Fife in Scotland left with his skull and jaw broken after being involved in a suspected hit-and-run
• Skittles the ginger cat found impaled on railings near his north west London home
PDSA Pet Survivor Awards 2018 are supported by Animal PoisonLine, a 24-hour advice line for owners who are concerned that their pets have come into contact with something potentially poisonous. See: www.animalpoisonline.co.uk