Dumped puppy Jakk inspired a huge campaign that is touching the nation. Alex Cearns reports.
As a pet photographer who works closely with dozens of rescue organisations, I hear many stories of neglect, cruelty and abandonment. Thankfully, these are balanced out by stories of rescue, love and devotion. The story of Jakk the dumpster puppy is shocking due to his young age and has exposed a practice that is barbaric and cruel — throwing animals away as if they were trash. I’ve been entrusted with the task of documenting Jakk as he grows, photographing him every two weeks. It is a privilege to spend time with this little fighter. Here is his story.
It was 5:30am on a cold April morning when Jade Roberts, an employee of Hungry Jacks in Baldivis WA finished her shift and walked into the rear car park. As she walked past the dumpster, she heard crying coming from inside and initially thought the noise was being made by a cat or kitten. On investigation, Jade realised it was coming from a tiny puppy. Without hesitation, she jumped into the bin and rescued him. He was tiny, no more than two to four days old with his eyes closed and his umbilicus scab attached.
It was immediately noticeable that the puppy’s front legs hadn’t formed properly and so Jade rushed the pup, who she called Jakk, to the closest vet for a check-up. The vet advised that expert care was required for Jakk so Jade took him home and kept him safe and warm while contemplating who to ask for help.
In the meantime, the Perth-based rescue group WA Pet Project (WAPP) heard about his plight and contacted Jade, who released him into their care. A dedicated WAPP volunteer, Madilyn Wall, then completed a four-and-a-half-hour round trip to collect Jakk and deliver him to WAPP founder, Edith Balatonyi. By the time Jakk got to Edith’s, there was immense interest in his story and, by the following morning, several news stations and newspapers had been in touch to share the tale of Jakk the dumpster puppy.
Within a few days, Jakk was booked in to see specialist Dr John Punke (DVM, MS, DACVS, DECV) from Perth Vet Specialists. The vet’s diagnosis was that Jakk was likely to have a congenital condition called hemimelia. This is when human babies or animals are born without portions of their limbs due to faulty development while they are in the uterus. It can range in severity from missing a small, nonessential bone without much consequence to the complete absence of multiple major bones, causing severe deformities and dysfunction.
Dr John believes that Jakk is missing parts of both the humerus (upper arm bone) and radius (lower arm bone) in both legs and that radiographs will be required when he is around 10 weeks of age. From there, Dr John will be able to determine which bones are missing and make a plan for Jakk’s future treatment. For now, the immediate priority is to keep Jakk safe and prevent him from getting bed sores from not being able to walk well.
Realising Jakk would require ongoing medical treatment, WAPP started a gofundme campaign that raised more than $10,000 in 24 hours. These funds will contribute to his ongoing care.
For now, Jakk is playing a waiting game. “We won’t really know what we’re dealing with in terms of treatments needed until his X-rays are completed in four weeks’ time,” says Edith. “In the meantime he’s getting daily physio and massage and weekly therapy with Julie Edwards from the Wellness Centre for Dogs and their Humans.”
Follow Jakk’s journey on WA PET Project Facebook page here.
About Alex Cearns
Internationally renowned animal photographer Alex Cearns is the creative director of Houndstooth Studio. Her images have won a multitude of awards and have been published widely across Australian and international print and online media, including DOGSLife magazine (check out her blog here). Inspired by the joy of working with animals, Alex’s philanthropy and passionate advocacy for animal rescue has earned her high regard among Australia’s animal lovers and a strong following on social media. She is a selfconfessed crazy dog lady who loves to hug all animals. Follow her on Facebook or visit her website.