Booka was left at a Sydney RSPCA shelter with a heartbreaking note
Booka was left at a Sydney RSPCA shelter with a heartbreaking note

The most heartbreaking note you’ll read today

CAN you help find Booka's family?

The RSPCA is on a mission to locate the owners of the four-year-old Shar Pei cross, after his family were forced to surrender him because of an expensive skin condition.

Booka - who was left in an overnight cage at a Sydney centre - had a note attached, saying he was a much loved pet, but his condition was too costly to maintain.

"My name is Bockaboo," the note read. "I am trained, I may be scared at first.

"I have a genetic form of mainge [sic]. It is not contractible to other animals, though the treatment is quite expensiv [sic].

"He is a lovely dog. We can no longer afford his treatment … Please give him a chance, he is much loved and hard to let go."

The heartbreaking note left on Booka's cage.
The heartbreaking note left on Booka's cage.

A spokesperson for the animal welfare charity said they were intending to paying for all of his treatment and are on a mission for him to be reunited with the family.

"RSPCA NSW is now searching for Booka's family to give them the help they need," the statement read.

"The animal welfare charity has committed to paying for all of his treatment and want him to be reunited with his family, as well as offering them the ongoing support they need."

The RSPCA in NSW alone sees about 9000 pets surrendered each year. But the animal welfare charity runs community programs to help people and their pets who are doing it tough, stay together.

"It breaks our hearts to see loved family pets surrendered because they can't afford vet care, and we understand that can be a really difficult decision to make," RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said.

Booka the dog has a genetic form of mange, which is treatable.
Booka the dog has a genetic form of mange, which is treatable.

"You can see the pain and confusion on a surrendered animal's face. They don't understand what they've done wrong to be alone in a cage, given up by their family. And we understand that this decision can be just as painful for the family struggling to make ends meet.

"We have a lot of people coming to us for help, some people are fleeing domestic violence situations and need emergency transport, others are living rough on the streets and need help with vet care and food.

"We do everything we can to help the people and animals that need us most."

According to veterinarian Dr Melanie Hill from Swan Street Vet Clinic, Booka's condition can be treated with various oral products.

"Demodectic mange is caused by a mite which occurs normally in all dogs skin and hair follicles," Dr Hill told news.com.au.

"The dog's immune system usually keeps the mite numbers in check and there are no problems. However, in some dogs, the immune system doesn't suppress the mites and they go crazy and breed.

"As they breed and grow in the hair follicles, they actually push out the hairs so the dog goes bald. It can sometimes be itchy and they often get secondary bacterial infections which need treating.

Booka the dog is a four-year-old Shar Pei crossbreed with a treatable skin condition.
Booka the dog is a four-year-old Shar Pei crossbreed with a treatable skin condition.

"The reason for the immune system stopping suppression of the mites is understood to have a genetic basis. So dogs who have had demodectic mange should not be bred with, and also their parents should not continue to breed if they are still being bred with."

Dr Hill said the condition was diagnosed by a vet doing a scrape of the skin and looking for the mites under the microscope.

"They can be difficult to find and sometimes the only way to diagnose demodectic mange is with a full thickness skin biopsy (like you'd get a mole taken out at the doctor) under sedation and local anaesthetic," she explained.

"Years ago, the only way to treat mange was with horribly toxic shampoos and dips which were quite dangerous to the dog and the owner. Luckily, nowadays it is quite easy to treat with various oral products.

"There are some flea control products that actually have a claim [to protect] against demodex and can be used. The correct treatment needs to be determined by the vet who sees the dog."

If diagnosed early, mange can be easy and inexpensive to treat.
If diagnosed early, mange can be easy and inexpensive to treat.

In terms of cost, Dr Hill said if the condition was diagnosed early, treatment shouldn't be expensive to an owner.

"The early stages of the disease is noticing a small bald patch or two on the dogs coat," she said. "If the dog is taken to the vet and a skin scape is done at that time, treatment can be initiated and the mites treated.

"If the condition is left for a long time and the dog develops secondary infections or has additional skin problems such as allergies, then skin conditions in general can be expensive to treat, as there's often lots of medications that can be needed to be used and sometimes referral to specialist veterinary dermatologists."

If you know anything that might reunite Booka with his family, or would like to donate to help get him back to full health - call the RSPCA on 9782 4408 or text 'CARE' to 1997 6484 to donate $5.



Ella, the doyenne of Uki

Ella, the doyenne of Uki

TALKING HISTORY with Tweed Regional Museum

Man killed by lightning in NSW

Man killed by lightning in NSW

Severe storm activity is heading for the state this afternoon

Royal Navy musos are back on deck

Royal Navy musos are back on deck

Can't stop the beat at Currumbin RSL

Local Partners