Vets come to the rescue of critically-injured Muttley

Meet Muttley the loveable lurcher – he’s accident-prone, obsessed with squirrels, and extremely lucky to be alive.

Muttley suffered major injuries when he ran straight into a fallen tree while in a high-speed pursuit of a squirrel.

He ended up with a gaping wound to his shoulder and two puncture holes where branches from the tree impaled his chest.

The wounds were within centimetres of his lungs and kidneys – but amazingly neither did any serious damage.

Nine-year-old Muttley did, however, have to endure two hours in surgery – and two nights under close observation during which he received one-to-one treatment – at Vets Now’s pet emergency clinic in Guildford to recover from his ordeal.

Owner Karen Llewellyn, 55, who lives in Effingham, Surrey, said: “I was walking him on at Polesden Lacey country estate near Dorking when he and I both caught sight of the same squirrel.

“As usual, he was off in a flash, haring after it at full tilt. When he sees a squirrel it’s like everything else disappears from his mind and he becomes utterly fixated.

“I saw a fallen tree ahead of us and he just slammed right into it with a huge yelp of pain. He came back and just lay down in front of me and I thought ‘Oh dear, we’re in a spot of bother here.’

“His shoulder was a total mess. It was a five-inch gash and it was awful to look at. It was like something you might see in a butcher’s shop.

“And there were the two puncture wounds as well. Poor Muttley was in a lot of pain.”

Karen and her partner Caroline phoned ahead to Vets Now, where staff began making plans to admit Muttley straight away.

Karen said: “When we got there it was like an animal soap opera. There was a dog who’d eaten a hot cross bun as well as an unwell guinea pig and quite a few other cases.

“But Muttley got seen straight away because his injuries were so severe.”

Image of Muttley the lurcher for Vets Now article on dog ran into tree
Muttley was lucky the tree didn't puncture his lungs and kidneys

Carlo Benetollo, senior vet at Vets Now in Guildford, described Muttley as “very lucky” and said either of the wounds to his chest could have been fatal if they’d been a little to the left or right.

He added: “Muttley was clearly running very fast when he hit the tree and the injuries he suffered reflected that. As well as the lacerations, he suffered significant bruising and swelling.

“While the surgery wasn’t straightforward and took a considerable amount of time, it went to plan and we kept Muttley in for a couple of nights to monitor his progress.

“He wasn’t really interested in food while he was in our care so we’re so pleased to hear that he’s recovered well and is now back to his old self.”

Karen said Muttley is always getting into scrapes as “he’s that kind of dog”.

“A week after we got him from Battersea Dogs Home he broke his toe trying to chase a cat from our garden over an eight-foot fence panel.

“He nearly made it as well – but stubbed his paw against the fence and dropped back down to the grass with a yelp. All I can say is it’s just as well we’ve got insurance for him.

“We keep chickens and he’s never, ever, tried chasing one of those. It’s just squirrels and rabbits he goes for.”

Recalling the accident, Karen said: “We were a mile and a half or so from the car but I got him back there and we went to get help.

“We were really worried. Muttley is part of our family. When we went to see him on the Saturday night he didn’t even recognise us.

“But when he heard the word ‘squirrel’ he suddenly perked up and lifted his head – that’s how obsessed he is.”

When Muttley got home on the Sunday he was unsteady on his feet still and extremely tired.

But it wasn’t long before he was getting back to his normal self – and climbing into the hammock in Karen’s back garden where he likes to take a snooze.

Image of Muttley the lurcher for Vets Now article on dog ran into tree
Muttley has recovered from his ordeal and is back to snoozing in his hammock

Retired police officer Karen said: “Everyone at Vets Now was very kind and I’m really grateful to them for putting him back together.

“The thing about Muttley is that while he is a bit of a menace to squirrels, he’s so kind and gentle with humans and he just loves company.

“He takes part in Pets At Therapy sessions with patients at the Princess Alice hospice in Esher – that’s how friendly he is.

“In the evenings he comes to watch TV on the sofa – and have a nice cup of tea! I stick my mug down and the next thing I know his tongue’s in the cup and he’s helping himself to a Rich Tea biscuit while he’s at it!

“Muttley’s a huge character and I couldn’t imagine life without him. I can’t see him ever changing really – he’s a chaser and that’s just the way he is!”

The pet emergency clinic in Guildford – where Muttley received treatment – is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and hospitals that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.