Tracker’s Will to Live

1st Jul, 2022

Written by Monica Van Der Merwe, TEARS Social Media & Content Coordinator

Professional photography by Shane Burnell Photography

At 18h00 on a blisteringly hot Friday evening in Cape Town’s South Peninsula, two friends discovered a badly injured brown dog on the train tracks as they crossed to a tidal pool in Kalk Bay. As they approached the dog, they found that it was missing a leg, with what appeared to be a partially amputated tail and dried blood caking the injuries.

The dog had likely been hit by a train.

Covered in ants

Unsure where to turn on a Friday evening, the friends phoned TEARS to find help for the fading dog. TEARS’ Operations Manager immediately contacted Noordhoek Veterinary Clinic, who still had a vet on duty who began to prepare for surgery.

On arrival, veterinarian Dr Tracy Dicks, TEARS Operations Manager Mandy Store, and veterinary technicians were waiting in the parking area to rush the dog, a male of only around three years old, straight into surgery. His rescuers dubbed him Tracker since he’d been found on the train tracks.

The dog’s leg was gone, and his tail was completely amputated, being held on only by matted hair. He was covered in ants and his injures were about a day old.

X-rays revealed that Tracker had also suffered a broken pelvis but that his spine was still intact. His blood work uncovered yet more complications – he was suffering from both biliary and ehrlichia. As they shaved Tracker for surgery, the extent of the damage continued to be uncovered. He’d also been completely neutered by the train. That he was still alive was nothing short of miraculous.

A second chance

After several hours in surgery, Tracker had made it through, but his chances of survival were only 50/50. The next two days would be critical. Tracker went home with the Dr Dicks, while Mandy arranged that he’d be admitted to TEARS.

That night, Tracker ate chicken and drank water. A good sign! The next day, he peed! Another good sign. Tracker then moved in with TEARS Kennel Manager Luke Kruyt to be in a safe and attentive foster home while he healed and learned how to be a three-legged dog.

Tracker has an incredible will to live that’s lifted him through this horrific injury, but without crucial veterinary intervention he wouldn’t have survived. The TEARS Veterinary Outreach Programme gives forgotten dogs like Tracker a second chance.

Tracker could be yours!

Tracker has fully healed and is now ready for his forever home. Should you be able to offer this to him, please call TEARS on 021 785 4482 or email

TEARS is located in Sunnydale, near Kommetjie, Cape Town, and they rehome throughout the Western Cape, subject to approved home checks and other adoption procedures. Have a look at our feature article about this incredible organisation here:


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