AUTHOR M.K Clinton once said: “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog”.

Canines are often referred to as man’s best friend. They can make a bad day better and a lick or wag of their tail can turn your frown into a smile.

And you can rarely doubt a pooch’s affection and love for a caring owner. Unfortunately, for these two puppies now in the care of the Mildura Veterinary Hospital, they haven’t had much of a chance at life, or to form that formidable bond with an owner, and experience the mutual joy of being a furry friend to their someone special.

These two puppies, once a brotherhood of at least three, cannot catch a break.

As a spokesperson from Starting Over Dog Rescue explains: “They were found by a young man along the river. They were being attacked by hawks.

“It was reported and volunteers from Sunraysia Animal Rehousing Group (SARG) called.”

The pups were taken to be assessed by a vet as they had a lot of beak and claw marks on them.

Despite surviving that attack, another big hurdle was still to come.

“A local volunteer had them and quickly realised they were unwell,” the spokesperson said.

“Tests showed they were positive to parvovirus.”

One of the puppies succumbed to the illness, the other two are in a precarious position − gravely ill, and fighting for their lives.

The bill to give these puppies a chance at life is expected to be in the thousands, and the spokesperson from Starting Over Dog Rescue said donations to the Mildura Veterinary Hospital are most welcome.

But she said there is one important thing that any dog owner of pups in Mildura can do − and that’s get them vaccinated against parvo.

“It is a filthy disease that rots dogs from the inside out,” she said.

“If you can imagine putting a lump of steak in a steel pot outside for three or four days in the blistering heat, then opening it and smelling it. It is quite unlike anything you could smell; it actually smells like death.

“Then the poor things start bleeding from the bowel, and if you can’t stop that, they die.”

Even if a mother who has pups is vaccinated, only some of that immunity is passed onto the offspring.

With treatment for the illness costing thousands of dollars, many dogs locally often perish from the disease.

The spokesperson from Starting Over Dog Rescue said the RSPCA are offering Mildura residents free vaccinations for their dogs, something that has been fought for by rescue groups, and she urges the community to take advantage of this.

By ZOEY ANDREWS