Australia’s tiny symbol of hope: How Charlie the pug survived catastrophic bushfires which left half his body burned
Wrapped in a bandage after suffering 50 per cent burns to his body, it is not surprising Charlie the five-year-old pug looks somewhat doleful.
But the adorable dog has become the latest symbol of hope from the devastation wreaked by the Australian bushfires after miraculously surviving the inferno.
When he was rescued by police close to his owners’ devastated home in Dunalley, south west Tasmania, at first no-one expected him to pull through.
The house had been reduced to cinders and ashes and the pair’s other pets, a cat and another dog, perished in the inferno which destroyed 125 homes - 65 per cent of the town’s residential properties.
Charlie was rushed to the Tasmanian Animal Hospital where veterinary surgeons performed several hours of surgery to remove large patches of burnt skin.
He will now have to stay at the hospital for up to two months and, against all odds, the surgeon who treated him says he is ‘positive’ about his chances of making a full recovery.
A spokesman for the animal hospital said: ‘His owners came here looking for any of their pets and when they realised Charlie had survived they burst into tears.
'Obviously they are devastated they lost their other animals, never mind their home, but they've been coming in twice a day, every morning and afternoon, from the refuge centre where they are staying to check he is all right.
'He's a battler, a survivor. We're all so happy he is still alive. We didn't think he'd pull through but he has.'
Dr Gareth Stephenson who operated on Charlie, removing his burnt fur and skin, said: ‘He’s certainly sore at the moment but he’s a beautiful dog, he’s got some character.
'It's pretty incredible he has survived what must have been a terrifying ordeal.
'A police convoy brought him in on Tuesday night and he was in a pretty bad way.
'We had to remove three big areas of skin, each around ten to 15 centimetres in diameter, that were the most affected.
'We then took skin from adjacent areas and grafted it onto the burnt patches.
'It does leave a big hole so we have had to cover up the wounds.
'There is a massive risk of infection so he's taking a lot of antibiotics.
'He'll need his dressings changed every day and I'm very positive about his chances of recovery.'
More than 20,000 hectares of land and 120 homes were destroyed in the fires.