Pet Helpers saves dog’s life with reduced cost surgery

  • Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hannah, post-surgery can finally stand and take short walks for the first time since Thursday. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CAROLINE MORRIS OF PET HELPERS

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Through the continued donations of Pet Helpers benefactors, veterinarians Dr. Jack Love and Dr. Janet McKim were able to step in and volunteer their services to save the life of a severely injured dog. The longtime Pet Helpers vets were called in to perform a pair of surgeries on a six-month old Pit Bull who had been inadvertently run over by a car.

Hannah, the Pit Bull, arrived at Pet Helpers on Friday, after having spent almost 18 hours at Charleston Veterinary Referral Center. Hannah’s owner, Jillian Watts of Ravenel, had rushed her beloved pup there to the Shelby Court location after the accident. Hannah received more than $1,000 worth of treatment as the veterinarians there stabilized her while she was in shock and monitored her liver overnight.

The cost of repairing Hannah’s fractured leg was estimated to be almost $5,000 – more than her owner could afford. Without the surgery, Hannah would have to be euthanized. CVRC tried unsuccessfully to work out a payment plan and then attempted to recruit private veterinarians to perform the service but were unable to do so.

It was at that time that one of the staff remembered Dr. Love at Pet Helpers had performed a bilateral repair on a kitten’s broken legs for them. When Watts brought Hannah to Pet Helpers on Friday afternoon, the poor pup was unable to walk, or even stand. Dr. Love examined the radiographs and agreed to try the surgeries.

Hannah’s life was still in jeopardy as she prepared to enter her first surgery on Saturday. The procedure is a complicated one that only expert veterinarians are qualified to perform. Hannah made it through the first surgery and spent Saturday night on IV pain control before her left rear leg was repaired in a second surgery on Sunday.

By Monday morning, Hannah was already putting weight on her right hind leg and by later that day she could bear weight on both repaired legs. Hannah took her first steps on Tuesday morning, going for a short walk under the watchful eye of Dr. Love.

Dr. McKim and Dr. Love worked to find a local veterinarian certified in veterinary rehabilitation to donate services to Hannah, and Dr. Artise Stewart stepped up to the call. Charleston Veterinary Referral Clinic has offered its facility and equipment for use at no charge to Hannah’s owner.

“Hannah’s story is one where everybody wins,” Dr. McKim said. “CVRC was able to avoid putting down a dog that it had brought back to life right after the accident, we were able to repair her fractured legs at a reduced cost to the owner and Hannah stands an excellent chance of full recovery. Dr. Stewart will oversee her physical rehabilitation pro bono. It’s a great example of the animal community in Charleston working together.”

This type of teamwork was under threat just a few weeks ago as state legislators debated HB 3492, which would preclude animal shelters from performing services like those given to Hannah. The bill was tabled for now but will likely resurface during the next legislative session.

“This kind of collaboration between veterinary clinics and non-profit animal welfare groups is exactly what breeds success,” said Pet Helpers Executive Director Kevin Ryan. “It’s part of what has made Charleston the most successful community in the state in terms of saving lives. If HB 3492 passes, this type of partnership between public and private becomes extinct and everybody loses. Pet Helpers loses, the people of South Carolina lose, our pets lose, and certainly Hannah would have been lost. This bill is a direct assault on animal welfare organizations, consumers, our pets, and all nonprofits throughout our great state. It is a very scary and demonstratively devastating reality to face.”

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