Shar Pei Puppy Survives Run-in with Rare Flesh Eating Bacteria

July 30, 2013

BOSTON, July 30, 2013 – A six-month-old Shar Pei puppy named “Mugsy” is on the mend after a month-long battle with a flesh eating bacteria, the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center announced today. The infection, called necrotizing fasciitis, was so aggressive that his veterinary team at Angell had even considered humane euthanasia as a way to end his suffering.

 The necrotizing fasciitis flesh eating bacteria nearly killed young Mugsy, but he is on the mend after aggressive treatment and surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

Mugsy initially fell ill during the Memorial Day weekend in May.  His owner, Chuck Rees of Saugus, grew concerned over the puppy’s sudden lethargy.  Mugsy had also developed bumps on his belly that looked like bee stings.  Rees scheduled a check-up with his local veterinarian who, after evaluating Mugsy, directed him straight to Angell. 

Frightening Diagnosis, Dire Prognosis  

Mugsy arrived at Angell on May 28 and was immediately admitted to the hospital after a skin biopsy and blood culture analysis confirmed the presence of the deadly bacteria, which is so fast-moving that it spreads quickly from skin to muscle to bone.  The diagnosis stunned Dr. Roxanna Khorzad, who works in Angell’s Emergency & Critical Care Unit and who tended to Mugsy.  “Not only was this dog incredibly sick—and already close to death—but he was suffering from an infection that is almost never seen in pets.  Every second counts in a diagnosis like this and, to be honest, I was not optimistic that he would recover.” 

Indeed, Dr. Khorzad told Rees that Mugsy had only a 20 percent chance of surviving the infection.  Necrotizing (dying) skin had already begun to appear and the dog was in terrible pain.  Undaunted, both doctor and owner charged forward.  Dr. Khorzad and her team designed and administered an aggressive antibiotics protocol to try and arrest the infection.  Mugsy was also given high doses of pain medicine to anesthetize the sensation of the bacteria consuming his skin.  He spent a week on antibiotics enduring several bandage changes a day.  Said Rees, “Obviously the situation was very dire but I was hopeful because at least we had a plan for treatment—and the antibiotics appeared to be working because after a few days his skin began to clear and his energy level rose.” 


On Monday, June 4 Angell surgeons performed an operation to remove some of Mugsy’s dead skin.  He was then sent home newly bandaged and with more antibiotics.  After two weeks, however, Mugsy stopped eating.  Rees rushed him to Angell where Dr. Khorzad examined him.  “I could feel a blockage in his intestines just by palpating with my hands, and I knew in that moment the infection was now so serious that Mugsy’s already slim chances of survival had grown smaller.” 

Dr. Khorzad presented two options to Rees.  The first was a risky surgery to remove the portion of Mugsy’s intestines that were already compromised. The second was humane euthanasia.  “We had come so far at that point and I wanted to do whatever I could to try and save Mugsy,” said Rees.  The decision was made to operate. 

Angell surgeons removed 40 percent of Mugsy’s intestines in a two-hour operation on June 22. While under anesthesia Dr. Khorzad performed another skin culture which showed no fasciitis in Mugsy’s system.  Both she and Rees were elated to discover that the treatment protocol and the surgery had eliminated the infection.  “It was a giant weight lifted from my shoulders,” Rees said later.  “Now I could focus on Mugsy’s recovery from the surgery and building back his strength.”

Now, more than a month after the surgery, Mugsy continues to recover at home.  His incision is healing well and he shows no signs of continued infection.  Dr. Khorzad also expressed relief at the outcome.  “This kind of infection is extremely rare.  In fact I doubt I’ll see another case in my career.  I’m so glad that Mugsy continues to improve and, all things considered, he should go on to have a long and very normal life.”

For more information about Angell Animal Medical Center’s Emergency and Critical Care Services click here.




Angell Animal Medical Center cares for more than 50,000 animals a year and is one of the most acclaimed veterinary practices in the country. Angell has 67 doctors and an experienced support staff who work as a team to ensure high quality general wellness, emergency and specialty care. With 31 board-certified specialists and technology that includes an MRI specifically designed for animals, Angell is committed to providing a broad range of specialized expertise and experience, but delivers this care with one-on-one compassion that animals and their owners deserve. Angell is open for emergencies 24 hours of every day of the year, and offers night and weekend appointments with our specialty services.