Friday, February 18, 2011

To Be (Four-Legged) Or Not To Be: Fritz's Question

Last weekend was a busy one for rescue! One of our intakes was Fritz, a schnauzer/poodle mix with a tibial fracture (the tibia is the larger bone below the knee). After (likely) being hit by a car, he was brought into the PSPCA in early February, where the vets there did X-rays and decided to try to splint his leg, hoping that the break would heal properly. Unfortunately, Fritz was so painful from his broken leg and so overwhelmed by being in the shelter, that the staff contacted us to see if we had the room and the care to take him on.

Our first stop after picking Fritz up was the veterinarian. Because he had been splinted the weekend before, at the very least he was due for a bandage change! Poor Fritz was sweet with all of us, but didn't want anyone touching his leg, so our veterinarian sedated him so that he could be neutered and his bandage changed.

She first noticed that his bandage had slipped down his leg a little bit. Hind legs are notoriously hard to bandage, as they like to slip down the leg and create more pain and problems in bone healing. Even though we can sometimes get away with changing bandages only once a week, oftentimes hind legs need to be replaced more frequently. Fritz's break was also near the top of his tibia (basically at his knee) so it was very important that the bandage stayed put!

Fritz stayed at the veterinary hospital overnight and went home with his foster mom in the morning. By that that night, his bandage had already slipped again, much to our dismay.

We had a long conversation about the best thing to do for Fritz. Continuing to splint his leg for another 6 weeks, especially if the bandage continued slipping every day or every few days, was becoming a more troublesome plan. Sometimes animals let us re-splint their legs awake, but for Fritz, who was scared and very painful, that wasn't an option. Sedating him every 2-3 days was also not a good option.

If we had thousands of dollars at our disposal, we could contemplate having his leg pinned by an orthopedic surgeon, but that would still involve 5-6 weeks of cage rest after yet another surgery for Fritz.

After a long discussion, we unanimously decided that the best option for Fritz was to amputate his leg. Three-legged dogs, especially small dogs, do really well. Instead of going through bandage change after bandage change in a vet clinic that was scary to him for 6 more weeks, plus another 2-4 weeks of limited exercise, Fritz would undergo one more surgery and come out of it without any restrictions whatsoever. The other really nice aspect of amputations is that since the broken bone is removed, the healing process is much faster and much less painful overall.

Fritz had his surgery on Thursday and went home to his foster home today. Already his foster mom is reporting that he is doing so much better than when he had his splint on; he's less worried about her touching him and much more willing to walk around the house and interact with the other animals.

Finally, instead of being in our care for another 6-8 weeks, Fritz will be able to start looking for a home soon, and it's always in their best interest to go to their forever homes sooner rather than later!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Old Dogs Need Homes Too: Stella's Story

Although we end up finding and placing a lot of puppies, kittens, and young animals, they aren't the only ones looking for homes. Sadly, many older dogs and cats find themselves in shelters or on the street, and finding adoptive homes can be challenging. While we usually have a lot of success placing older small dogs (Fred, from an earlier blog post, is a perfect example, as is Walter, the pug that just went a home last weekend), bigger dogs, for whatever reason, have a much harder time finding homes.

Take Stella, for example. Stella is a mastiff (maybe boxer mix) who was found along Kelly Drive, completely confused as to where she was and which direction would take her home. A kind Samaritan (and veterinary nurse) picked her up off the street. Since the nurse didn't have the room to take Stella home, she contacted us to see if we could help. All of us at Cares4pets are suckers for older dogs, especially when they are as cute and sweet as Stella!

First order of business with any older animal is to run some bloodwork (to make sure they are healthy) and to get them spayed/neutered. Stella has clearly had A LOT of puppies in her life, and definitely deserves to not have any more! She did great under anaesthesia, but our veterinarian noticed another lump on her shoulder while she was asleep and took that off as well. We biopsied the lump, and found that poor Stella has cancer.

After doing some chest radiographs, we were able to determine that her cancer had not spread to her lungs, hopefully buying her some real time to enjoy the rest of her life.

Stella is any dog-lover's dream come true. She is housebroken, great with people, great with dogs, and wants nothing more than to curl up beside her foster mom. She's calm and quiet, and has been through enough to know a good thing when she sees it.

Although she's in a foster home where she is in good hands and loved, what Stella really deserves is, for the first time in her life, to be someone's pet. She may not have a ton of time left, but she's ready to make the most of it. All she needs is someone to share it with!

Remember, when you're looking for your next dog (or cat), that older animals need homes too. Even if Stella isn't the right match for you, there might be another senior that is.