Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
In early April of 2012, I was contacted by Pat Dixon about what would be our most challenging case to date. Pat had found Hazel, a three-year old female pit bull, a block from Moore Square, emaciated and digging through garbage. Her swollen, milk-filled nipples indicated that she had recently given birth to a litter of puppies. Not knowing what to do, Pat called Animal Control. Over the next 45 minutes, as she waited for them to arrive, she followed Hazel in hopes of finding her puppies. Her search was unsuccessful, as was a subsequent search by the Animal Control officer. Animal Control loaded her into their truck and Hazel was taken to the Wake County AnimalShelter.
Pat continued to visit Hazel periodically at the shelter. A former co-worker of mine, Brian Colter, who is now working at the shelter, saw Pat’s anguish and referred her to Pit Crew Pit Bull Rescue (PCPBR). She promptly emailed me, relating her story and offering financial assistance to our rescue if we could take the case. PCPBR always has a number of requests to assist dogs in need, so the decision of which case to take is always a difficult one to make. Pat’s commitment and involvement in Hazel’s case convinced me that this was the best use of our resources and time.
Chris Cottrell and I went to meet our latest rescue in the Wake County Shelter. I was shocked at her appearance. I had not expected her face and body to be covered in scars, which told a story of past abuse and probable use as a bait dog. She was missing patches of fur, and her nipples seemed to be the majority of her body weight. She was bone thin, but her tail was still wagging.
Our first step was to try to locate a foster home. I located her shelter listing on the Wake County Shelter’s website and used their information and picture to create a Craigslist post seeking a foster for her. After submitting proof of PCPBR’s 501(c)3 status, we became an approved rescue with the Wake County Shelter, enabling us to pull dogs at no cost from the shelter. I originally planned to pull her from the shelter when a foster was located, but foster home after foster home continued to fall through at the last second. About a week after she had been in the shelter, I was contacted by the shelter coordinator, Joanne Duda. She told me that Hazel had been placed on the “sick list,” and that if we did not come for her within the next 24 hours, Hazel would be euthanized. Panic set in. Hazel’s situation had just become urgent and we still had no foster home. If we were going to be able to help Hazel, all of PCPBR would have to pull together.
Despite Chris’s busy work schedule, he volunteered to house and care for Hazel. Now that we had a place to house Hazel, Cat and I drove to the shelter to pick Hazel up. Pat Dixon met us there to celebrate Hazel leaving the shelter. Pat Dixon generously contributed the financial backing to cover a visit to the veterinarian and her spay, which was scheduled to take place the following morning.
Upon taking Hazel to the vet, we learned that she had recently recovered from mange and had developed a staph infection of the skin. Hazel was given antibiotics to treat the staph infection, but her upper respiratory infection was not deemed severe enough to be treated.
That night, Hazel stayed at my house and I could hear her coughing throughout the night. The cough became so intense that I grew concerned. Despite my anxiety, in the morning I brought her to the Wake County Shelter for her spay. I was concerned they would not perform the surgery due to her severe cough, but the doctor assured me that the color of her gums was good and her temperature was normal and that the surgery could proceed.
That afternoon I picked a groggy and lethargic Hazel up from the shelter. The surgeon informed me that her condition had gotten worse and that I would need to pick her up at the back door so that she would not infect other dogs. Hazel was taken to Chris’s apartment, where he set her up with a crate and plenty of doggie comforts. Chris had long planned on trying out for Jeopardy, and by a stroke of bad luck, this was the weekend of the auditions in Washington, D.C., so I spent the weekend between my home and his apartment taking care of Hazel.
As the weekend progressed, Hazel’s condition continued to deteriorate. Her cough became more frequent and pronounced, and by Monday, it was clear she needed to see a veterinarian. Further complicating matters, this was the week of my GRE examination, but I managed to find time to take her to the vet.
Her visit brought bad news. Hazel’s upper respiratory infection had progressed and she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. X-rays revealed that her left lung had collapsed. Hazel was given a 40% chance of survival and the doctor said it would not be wrong to euthanize her, but if we decided to proceed, it was recommended that she be hospitalized and placed in intensive care, the cost of which was estimated at $1,600.00 for three days. I knew instantly that we could not afford this, so I asked what would be involved if I were to provide the necessary care myself. The veterinarians warned me that this would be challenging and involve around-the-clock care, but with our limited resources, we had no other option. The doctor explained that her care would consist of delivering five medications multiple times a day, shower steam treatments, percussion therapy, and nebulizer treatments every four hours. Hazel was so contagious that she could not safely be around other animals. This eliminated the possibility that she could stay with me, and with my GRE exam looming, I knew trips back and forth to Chris’s apartment would be impossible.
With the possibility of Hazel staying in a home with other pets eliminated, I quickly realized that PCPBR could not provide housing for Hazel in her condition. I contacted Pat Dixon, who immediately left work to meet me at the veterinarian’s office. Pat suggested we house Hazel in her home that was empty and under contract at the time, and I graciously accepted her offer. Over the next few hours, I packed up my belongings and moved them into Pat’s empty house. Hazel now had a safe and spacious place to stay where we could provide her with the intensive care she required.
Over the next 48 hours, board member Elyse Kline and I cared for Hazel around the clock. Hazel, who showed little to no appetite, finally accepted diluted soup and canned chicken. As the hours passed, Hazel’s cough showed little improvement, but her energy level steadily increased. She showed little aversion to the frequent nebulizer treatments and did not resist as we took her temperature every twelve hours.
When Chris returned from his trip to Washington, D.C., Hazel was transported to his apartment and seemed to have pulled through the worst of her illness. Over the following six weeks, Chris continued to provide Hazel with the medications and treatments that kept her on the road to recovery. Each PCPBR member contributed to Hazel’s care, whether it be walking her when Chris was at work or babysitting her over a long weekend. Slowly, Hazel began to cough less frequently and her fever subsided.
After three weeks around-the-clock care, I took Hazel to the veterinarian to reassess her condition. After listening to her lungs, the doctor informed me that curiously, the right lung sounded much worse than the left lung, which had previously been reported as collapsed. The doctor determined the best course of action would be to refill Hazel’s antibiotic and bronchodilator. He discouraged taking follow-up x-rays at that time, recommending we wait two weeks to take the next series of films to allow the antibiotic to take full effect.
On Thursday, April 10, I took Hazel to the veterinarian for her final x-rays. The films showed Hazel’s lungs were almost entirely clear of fluid, and the doctor informed me that Hazel was on the verge of a full recovery and would be ready for adoption after a two-week observation period.
PCPBR is currently seeking a permanent adoptive home for Hazel. Hazel will make a wonderful addition to a family who is able to make her their only pet. Please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (919) 457-3719 if you are interested in adopting Hazel, the miracle dog!
Monday, May 14, 2012
I first heard about Essie, a sweet and affectionate, one and a half year old brindle pit bull, when Patricia Kesler called Pit Crew Pit Bull Rescue (PCPBR) in January of 2012. Patricia said that approximately a month ago, she had found Essie, dirty and malnourished, in her hometown of Lexington, NC. Essie did not get along with her son’s female pit bull, Nala, and Patricia was feeling overwhelmed.
|Cat meets Essie|
Patricia’s anxiety had grown after she had taken Essie to Davidson Animal Hospital for vaccinations and a checkup, where she learned that Essie was heartworm positive. She was told the treatments Essie needed would be expensive, and she did not know where to turn, so she contacted us. Initially I was unsure about taking the case because the dog was heartworm positive, and I knew that Immiticide, the most effective canine heartworm treatment, was in short supply in at the time. As she continued to explain Essie’s situation, I was having doubts that with our limited resources, we could successfully provide her with the necessary treatment. Finding a home for Essie in this condition would be difficult, but as Patricia continued to explain the ordeal she and Essie had been through, I could hear the genuine care and concern in her voice. Despite the news of Essie’s heartworm positive status, Patricia had already provided her with all the necessary vaccinations and parasite preventatives to keep Essie healthy, which convinced me that I should do what I could to help.
|Essie explores Lake Johnson|
While Patricia had already contributed her resources and time to helping Essie, the expense of the heartworm treatment would certainly leave PCPBR’s resources depleted. To ensure our resources would be well placed, we decided to meet Patricia in person to sign the necessary foster paperwork and also to guarantee that she was willing to keep Essie throughout the duration of her treatment.
|Patricia, Cat, Essie, and I|
On February 12, 2012, Cat and I met Patricia and Essie at Lake Johnson. She was a warm and caring woman and we instantly trusted her and knew that Essie would be in good hands. Over the next month and a half, Essie received heartworm treatment every two weeks, which was composed of a three-phase treatment. Phase one consisted of a two-day period, during which all Immiticide was given. Patricia was also sent home with an antibiotic, pain medication, and an anti-inflammatory. In phase two, she was given an injection of Ivermectin. In the third and final phase, her blood was checked for microfilariae. On the final visit, we were happy to hear that there were no microfilariae present in her blood and that her prognosis was good. Because she will still test positive for heartworms for at least six months, she will be rechecked at the beginning of next year to confirm her heartworm negative status.
With her heartworm treatment complete, it was time for Essie to be spayed. Her surgery was done at Planned Pethood, a spay and neuter clinic in Greensboro, NC. Over the next month, Patricia and I continued to stay in contact. Periodically, I would ask if she had plans to adopt Essie or if I should begin looking for a permanent home. I could tell Patricia was fond of her, but had concerns about the interactions between Essie and Nala. In late April, Patricia called to inform me that she wanted to adopt Essie. I was excited that Essie had found such a wonderful forever home and promptly sent out the adoption paper work. A week later, Essie’s adoption was made official when I called Patricia to tell her I had received and approved her application for Essie’s adoption.
|A happy and healthy Essie!|
Friday, February 3, 2012
Lauren and Cat are reunited with Chunk
On a surprisingly warm Saturday January 7th from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm Pit Crew Pit Bull Rescue held our first fundraising event! The staff of Unleashed, a premium dog supply store, was kind enough to host our event and show us the ropes of operating a dog wash centered fundraiser.
Bright and early, friends, family, and volunteers gathered at Unleashed in the Lake Boone Shopping Center off of Wycliff Road in Raleigh to raise money to support the pit bull rescue cause and to cover the medical bills from our most recent case, Lily and her puppies.
Lily makes a friend!
As we were setting up tables, hanging posters, and organizing displays, we already had a crowd gathering to sign up for dog washes! From then on we consistently had a steady stream of owners whose furry friends needed baths and other grooming services.
Chris on the way to give a bath
We had such an overwhelming turnout that we had to extend the event until 4pm. It was an overwhelming success, raising enough to cover all of Lily and her puppy’s medical bills.
Hampton and Victoria hard at work
None of this could have been possible without the hard work of PCPBR’s staff and volunteers. I would like to thank Cat Renner, Lisa Quinn, Elyse Kline, Chris Cottrell, Hampton, Zac, Victoria, Chad, Cat’s family, especially Teresa Wheeler, and Katie and the entire staff of Unleashed.
Elyse and Lily
This case has been very challenging, physically, emotionally, and financially for Pit Crew Pit Bull Rescue. In the two weeks before our January fundraiser we lost three puppies. We had planned on the fundraiser being a dog wash as well as an adoption event for Lily’s puppies, but after the loss of the third puppy, our vet recommended keeping the puppies isolated until the cause of death could be determined.
While our fundraiser was successful, it was also bittersweet as we were waiting on the results of the necropsies on the puppies that had passed. To this date, the cause of death cannot be determined, but before moving the puppies to the next rescue, we insured that the proper diagnostic tests were run to eliminate the possibility that the litter was affected with anything that could pose a risk to the health of other dogs at the next rescue.
Pit Crew PBR did all we could to give Lily’s puppies the best chance they had despite the disadvantage that malnutrition put them at when they came into this world. As we saw the puppies fighting for their lives, we did all that we could to help them. The loss was particularly hard for Cat Renner, who personally housed them, witnessed their birth and supervised their medical care, at times using her own personal money for unexpected costs. The loss was also hard for me, as I also had a large role in their care. In addition to regularly visiting with the puppies and financially sponsoring their care, I also personally administered enemas at all hours of the night and gave their first two series of DHLPPCv vaccinations.
As is often nature’s course, the smaller and sickly puppies in the litter did not make it despite our best efforts. However the remaining puppies were transferred to Faith Rescue, and as of now, three have been adopted and are currently in loving “fur-ever” homes.
We had a small scare with the mother Lily, who days before her scheduled spay at the SPCA Spay and Neuter Clinic developed a life threatening condition called an open pyometra. Our valued and always accommodating friend at the SPCA Clinic, Kristin Foley, was kind enough to move Lily’s spay to the earliest date possible, treating the open pyometra before any serious health risk occurred. Lily has made a full recovery and is thriving in her permanent home with Cat, who decided to adopt her after all they have been through together.
Despite my reservations about taking such a challenging case, I am very glad that I chose to because I met my partner Cat. This case has taught me the value of friendship between partners in a job that can be emotionally taxing at times. Cat and I both leaned on each other when we were at our weakest points and help each other to make better decisions when our judgment becomes clouded by emotion. In the end we were able to save Lily’s life and provide five of her puppies with the opportunity to thrive.