From the SPA
By Dr. Jack Gerwarter
Volunteering as a veterinary surgeon for the SPA over the past couple of years has been extremely rewarding. Once in a while, a case stands out. Around 11am on Wednesday, March 16, I was asked to see an emergency. “Rush him in,” I said.
There are cute paw prints painted on the clinic walls for decoration. Suddenly, the clinic floor was covered in not-so-cute paw prints of blood. Amber, a five year old black labrador/pit bull mix, had been secured to a length of old rope in the back of a pickup truck. When the truck hit a speed bump, the driver did not realize that the dog bounced out of the truck. Unable to break free from that length of rope, Amber was dragged by the collar for about a kilometer.
With more than forty years of veterinary experience, working with all types of animals in a vast variety of situations all over the world, I still cringed when I saw Amber. I thought of him enduring those excruciatingly long moments, struggling to survive or break free from the end of that rope. He was covered in road dust. His four paws were skinned and his toes were ground down to the bone. On one side of his body, most of the skin was hairless and road-burned over his chest, shoulders, and haunches. There were cuts and scrapes everywhere, from his ears to his tail, with gaping filthy wounds oozing blood. What struck me most of all about this poor animal was his calm, stoic demeanor. He was not in shock, to my surprise, and allowed me to thoroughly examine him despite his obvious pain. He even wagged his tail as though he knew intuitively that we were there to help him.
We set to work trying to stem the bleeding, clean, and freshen the wounds, and close the skin wherever possible. Then we applied topical salves and sprays and medicinal wraps and bandages. He received injections for pain and to fight infection. Paw by painful paw, the entire process took over two hours.
Amber has been back to the clinic regularly since then for bandage changes, medication, and tending to his healing wounds. Some of the dead skin has sloughed off and there is now healthy new tissue filling the gaps. He will be fine. His courage and trusting, friendly attitude are truly inspiring. When Amber came in for his first re-check, he was accompanied by his entire family. There were two young girls in tears who obviously loved their dog dearly. In order to help pay for Amber’s care, one of the girls offered to forego a new pair of shoes. This brought a tear to my eye, as did their wise words to their father, “Never drive with a dog in the back of an open pickup truck!” Truly an important lesson for the entire community!