OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The doctor that did the surgery called it the worst case of matting she'd ever seen. An 11 pound shih tzu, with nine pounds of fur and debris, found in a vacant home.
Not only was it uncomfortable for the dog, but also possibly deadly if vets didn't act.
The dog was found when a cleaning crew was going through the house of a recently deceased person.
"It was a good thing that they were going into clean the house when they did and that's when they came across her,” says Doctor Amber Horn, a veterinarian at the Nebraska Humane Society.
And behind all the fur, was a dog, always in pain.
"It's kind of like having a blood pressure cuff completely inflated, all the time, on your arm, that's how she felt, constantly, all over her body,” says Jenna Baseler, a groomer with the Nebraska Humane Society.
Once Ellie Mae was rescued from her previous home she was taken over to the Nebraska Humane Society, and the vets had to get to work quickly, as her life was at risk.
"If she can't get food and water, that's something that is fatal. Also, severe skin infections, having sepsis from having strangulation of the limb is another life risk for her,” says Horn.
The possible strangulation of limbs was a major worry for Dr. Amber Horn.
"I was very concerned that she was going to not have use of her hind legs, sometimes what happens is the hair actually strangulates the limb, so they lose their feet,” says Horn.
The three-person team got to work cutting off the matted hair with a surgical blade. While doing so they saw the dog's nails, some of them reaching seven inches long.
Eventually the hair was cut, the nails were trimmed, and after a few minor surgeries, Ellie Mae was herself again.
"I saw Ellie Mae walking around in here and she walked around like, I like to use the phrase, I woke up like this, like she was walking like that, she was walking like she was a queen,” says Horn.