Toby, an eight-year-old male tabby, had never had any medical issues until he suddenly became blocked, or unable to urinate, one day last month.
“He was going to his litter box constantly,” said Carlos B. of the Bronx, who adopted Toby as a kitten. “Back and forth, back and forth—and his personality seemed to change.”
So Carlos and his girlfriend, Julie, brought Toby to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), where he was diagnosed with Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS), or urinary blockage, by Dr. Maren Krafchik.
Most cats affected by FUS are in the one- to eight-year range, like Toby. Common symptoms include:
Straining to urinate
Frequent small urinations
Blood in the urine
Inappropriate urination (somewhere other than the litter box)
Straining without urination (urinary obstruction)
Crying, restlessness, or hiding because of discomfort
Loss of appetite
“Urinary blockage is a life-threatening emergency,” says Dr. Krafchik. “Potassium levels (as well as kidney toxins) rise in the bloodstream and can cause death in a cat.”
A urinary catheter was placed to unblock Toby’s urethra and allow urine to drain from Toby’s bladder, and he received intravenous fluids and pain medication. The urinary catheter was removed a few days later, and Toby was sent home. Unfortunately, this condition can reoccur, and Toby returned to the Hospital three weeks later with another urinary obstruction. “He went back to his old symptoms,” Carlos said.
Given Toby’s history of chronic straining and urinary problems, ASPCA veterinarians recommended a Perineal Urethrostomy (PU). This is a surgical procedure in which the external penis/urethral tissue is incised and sutured open in order to permanently widen the urethral opening. This surgery, commonly performed at AAH, helps decrease the chance of future bladder obstruction.
“Male cats are susceptible to developing obstructions of the urethra because their urethral diameter is so small,” says Dr. Krafchik.
As of earlier this month, AAH has performed catheterization procedures for urinary blockage on 163 cats, and 37 PU surgeries—an average of almost one procedure per day in 2015.
“Many people think their pets are misbehaving by urinating outside of the litter box,” says Dr. Krafchik. “The reality is that there can be an underlying reason for the behavior such as bladder inflammation, crystals, stones, or less likely, infection.”
Carlos reports that since Toby’s PU procedure, he is back to his old self. “He is really happy, very friendly, and playful, which we missed so much,” Carlos says. “He's eating and his bodily functions are back to normal.”
Although we treat victims of cruelty nearly every single day, Bea’s story is particularly heartbreaking. After being rescued by the NYPD in January, the two-year-old pit bull arrived at the ASPCA with a horrific head wound. She was extremely shy and very nervous around people, and it was apparent that she had suffered grave abuse. We vowed to find Bea a loving home where she could forget her previous pain, and fortunately, it wasn’t long before we did just that. Here is Bea’s Happy Tail.
When Bea arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, she had a large, bloody gash on the top of her head. It was a suspected stab wound. She received immediate treatment, including multiple stitches, and spent over a month recovering in the Hospital. By early March, she was ready to begin her search for a forever home, but it was clear that her emotional wounds ran much deeper than the physical wound on her head.
During Bea’s Behavioral evaluation, we saw first-hand how the sweet dog had been impacted by the abuse she suffered. Bea was incredibly shy, nervous and fearful; she needed encouragement just to walk past things that frightened her. But despite her timidity, Bea was sweet and affectionate with people she knew. Once someone earned her trust, she would gladly jump into their lap and relish their attention. We knew she just needed patient adopters who would take the time to make her comfortable, and fortunately it wasn’t long before we met Molly and Daniel.
Although Molly and Daniel dreamed of adopting a dog for nearly five years, the couple was juggling multiple jobs and full-time graduate school, which made it difficult to think about bringing a pup into the mix. But Molly says, “All that changed when we met Bea. We fell in love with her and just knew we would figure out a way to make it work.”
On their first-ever visit to the ASPCA Adoption Center, Molly and Daniel were drawn to Bea (or “Beezus,” as they call her) and wanted to meet her. “She was really shy at first,” Molly recalls, “But I could just sense that she was special.” We filled them in on Bea’s story and worked out a course of action: To avoid putting stress on Bea, the couple decided to spend a week visiting her at the Adoption Center to build trust and a connection.
“Beezus was the happiest dog with a great personality,” says Molly, “but she was really shy at first and it took a number of visits before she would even come over to us.” Fortunately, their patience paid off—after a week of visits, Bea had fallen for them just as much as they had fallen for her. “I had a feeling that once we showed her love, her trust in humans would rebuild—and we were right!” Molly says. On March 27, they officially adopted Beezus and brought her to her new home in Brooklyn, New York.
In an update a few months later, Molly was proud to report that Beezus loves her new life. “She settled in better than we ever could have imagined. She is right at home here.” The couple was also happy to learn that Beezus is exceptionally well-trained, which Molly calls “an unexpected gift.” She says that Beezus loves all of her neighbors, loves riding in the elevator and loves playing with the little dogs in the neighborhood. “She also adores tennis balls, her Monkees blanket and endless cuddling.”
It take a special kind of adopter to see beyond an animal’s pain to their true potential, and Molly and Daniel could not have been a more perfect fit for sweet Bea. Molly says, “Some dogs love everyone they meet, which is great, but with Beezus, you have to earn the love and it makes it that much more special.” We know that Molly and Daniel earned Bea’s love, and we are so grateful that this precious pup has finally found the home of her dreams.
Janet, Chrissy and Jack were rescued by the NYPD in early May. The three Shih Tzus were malnourished and their coats were so matted that their vision was impaired. They were rushed to the ASPCA Animal Hospital where our expert staff provided medical care, grooming and a gradual feeding schedule to help the dogs gain weight safely. While this trio is making good progress, it is still too early to discuss their availability for adoption.
“We often care for victims of extreme matting—the impacts of which go far beyond the cosmetic,” says Howard Lawrence, Senior Director of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group. “Severe matting can lead to skin infections, decreased mobility and even cut off circulation to the point of limb amputation. We’re thankful that in the course of a narcotics arrest the NYPD investigators were able to recognize animals in need and bring them to the ASPCA for care.”
We are optimistic that Janet, Chrissy and Jack will continue to improve under our care.
“This case exemplifies why the partnership is so important for this city’s most vulnerable animals, and we thank the Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Office for seeking justice in this case,” says Lawrence.
Frankie, a tiny Yorkshire terrier, was 18 months old when he was dropped down a garbage chute in a Bronx, New York, apartment building last September. He sustained skull fractures and neurological trauma from the fall, which left him nearly completely blind in both eyes. He weighed just four pounds when New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers rescued him and brought him to the ASPCA Animal Hospital.
Over the next three months, ASPCA veterinarians carefully monitored Frankie as his wounds healed. He quickly became a staff favorite, and ASPCA Director of Veterinary Technicians Jennifer Coyle even provided hands-on foster care for Frankie in her office.
In December, a Manhattan native named Rose M. met Frankie while visiting the ASPCA during a break from her studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts. She fell in love and returned one month later to make the adoption official.
Rose patiently helped Frankie adjust to his new surroundings, which was a difficult process for the tiny pooch—compounded by his partial blindness.
“He is now well-adjusted, like any other fun-loving, cuddly Yorkie,” Rose says. “He loves his new home where he is meeting lots of new people and experiencing new things.”
This cuddly pup’s favorite activities include going on walks, chewing on household objects and playing "find it" with his favorite treats.
In photos on his very own Instagram account, Frankie also reveals his mischievous side—“eating” Rose’s homework, consuming her reading materials and sitting at her computer while she works. He also models his new collection of stylish sweaters.
After a rough start, we’re so glad Frankie’s story has a happy ending and that he is receiving the care and love he so desperately needed. Want to help ensure happy endings for other animal cruelty victims like Frankie? Consider making a donation to the ASPCA today.
Many of you may recall the story of Charlotte, a tiny Maltese/Shih Tzu who garnered national attention last fall when she was severely injured and left for dead in Staten Island, New York. The alleged abuser’s court case is still pending, but fortunately, Charlotte’s future is not. Here is a happy update on her story.
Charlotte was discovered in a trash bag near the Staten Island train tracks in September, 2014. According to allegations in court documents, her previous owner told police that she couldn’t afford to care for Charlotte, so she put her in the bag and threw her out of her car window. Charlotte was severely injured during the ordeal, and when she arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital she was in critical condition. At the time, she was less than four months old.
During her six-week stay at the hospital, Charlotte received treatment for a fractured skull, a fractured femur and brain trauma resulting from the blunt-force impact. Though public outrage surrounding the case was high, our primary goal was to help Charlotte heal and—most importantly—to place her into a safe home where she could receive the attention, love and care that she so dearly deserved. Fortunately, on November 1, we found that home in the form of an adopter named Dava.
After the adoption, Dava’s first priority was to help Charlotte forget her painful past. In addition to the new home, she decided to give the tiny snow-white dog a new name: Pip. “She’s quite happy,” Dava said in an update a few months later. “She is doing great and is completely a part of the family.” Although Pip does have some lingering issues from her brain injury, Dava is more than happy to help manage them and the petite pup is currently undergoing further testing. “She has gotten a lot bigger and is full of energy and personality,” Dava adds proudly. “We adore her, and we’re so glad that we adopted her.”
Although the case against Pip’s alleged abuser is still pending—in October, she pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals, misdemeanor counts of torturing and injuring animals, and animal abandonment—we are beyond thrilled that Pip is recovering physically and emotionally in Dava’s home. Whatever the verdict may be, we know that the Pip’s happiness is the greatest outcome of all.