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Puppy from Iran that had acid thrown on face to have surgery in Vancouver

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On a chilly January afternoon, Mugsy zipped across a green lawn like a whitish-brown arrow playing catch.

Her owner, Sam Taylor, a resident of Burnaby, B.C., threw a brown, stuffed hedgehog and the seven-month-old pup chased it, tail wagging, just like any other dog would.

But Mugsy is not like any other dog.

« She looks like Voldemort but has the heart of Harry Potter and his friends, » said Taylor with a laugh, as she cuddled the pup.

On Feb. 12, Mugsy will undergo the third surgery of her life to repair damage from acid that was thrown on her.

Dog to undergo surgery

This surgery, to take place in Vancouver, will create nostril openings and use the tip of her ear to replace the melted bone and skin on the top of her nose, Taylor said.

The dog will be temporarily blind as the ear is folded over her face and attached over her nose so a blood supply forms from the ear onto the nose, she said, adding that the ear acts as a graft.

The next surgery will attach stents in place of nostrils and unfold the ear, she said.

The two surgeries are expected to cost up to $7,000.

« It’s no guarantee but (the doctor) seemed optimistic, » Taylor said, smoothing the dog’s left ear, which will be used to create the bridge of her nose.

Mugsy, a rescue dog from Iran, had a man douse her with a corrosive cleaner when she was around six weeks old. The attack burned much of her face and caused her to loose a eye, most of a ear and her nose. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Mugsy was born in Iran, and when she was 40 days old somebody threw acidic cleaner on her face as she played outside. Most of the pup’s face was melted — including her lip, right eye and right ear.

Although her Iranian family loved her, they could not afford all the treatment that Mugsy would need, so they decided to put her down.

But at veterinarian’s office in Iran, a volunteer from Persian Paws Rescue and Loved At Last Dog Rescue intervened.

She also offered to pay for the Maltese-Japanese spitz mix’s eye removal, which was causing the pup the most pain.

The volunteer was worried about an infection in the dog’s nasal cavity and decided that the best chance for her survival would be if she was adopted by someone in North America who could afford the care, Taylor said.

‘I really want to help this dog’

Last fall, Taylor, who works as a lab assistant at a hospital in downtown Vancouver, was browsing Loved At Last Dog Rescue, which finds homes for local and international stray dogs.

She was looking to make a donation on the site when she saw a blurred-out image that read, « graphic injury. »

« I thought it can’t be that bad, » she said.

She clicked.

« It was very, very graphic. I read her story and just and felt, ‘Oh I really want to help this dog. »‘

Mugsy was flown from Iran to Canada and now lives in Burnaby with Sam Taylor, who adopted her. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

She thought it over for about an hour — just a donation wouldn’t help because the dog needed surgery not available in Tehran — and then asked her roommate, who agreed to having a dog in the house.

« And I showed her a picture, and she said, ‘Whoa, OK. »‘

After filling out an application in late October, Taylor waited for about two months for Mugsy. A family visiting Vancouver brought Mugsy over with them, she said, noting that they had brought over other dogs before.

When Mugsy arrived she was very scared, Taylor said. She barked and howled and didn’t come out of her travelling kennel for about an hour.

And even after she came out, she didn’t eat or drink much.

‘She’s very spoiled’

« But now she’s very spoiled, » Taylor said, holding Mugsy close. « She gets squash and brown rice and sweet potato in her food. She’s pretty well-loved. »

Mugsy was called Hapoochi in Iran, which means tiny puppy, but Taylor said she wasn’t pronouncing the name right so her roommate came up with the name Mugsy.

« She does have the mug for it, » she said, with a chuckle.

Asked why she adopted a dog from another country when there a lot of dogs in Canada that need help, Taylor said it is « incidental » that Mugsy is from Iran.

Once she saw Mugsy on the website, she said she couldn’t stop thinking about her.

« I don’t think animals have boundaries and borders. They don’t have a nationality, » Taylor said. « I can understand if people think it’s a bit corny. »

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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