Charesse W. calls her five-month old pit bull mix, Petey, her “miracle dog” for good reason. On Christmas Day, Charesse left her Brooklyn apartment to spend time with family. Petey stayed behind, and when Charesse returned a few hours later, nothing seemed amiss. In the days that followed, however, Petey grew very sick. He stopped eating and drinking, and his weight declined rapidly.
Charesse rushed Petey to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where he received care through the ASPCA’s Trooper Fund—a program in place to cover medical costs for animals whose guardians need assistance with veterinary expenses.
Veterinarian Dr. Juline Holland noted that Petey was severely dehydrated and thin, and she could feel a tubular object extending the length of his abdomen. She stabilized Petey before sending him to radiology, where she was shocked by his radiographs. This small pup had swallowed something strange. Doctors and nurses gathered around the X-ray, studying a long, thin object that extended almost the entire length of Petey’s body.
Petey needed emergency surgery—foreign objects, especially one so large, can cause severe damage to the throat, stomach or intestines if swallowed. The resulting complications can be fatal.
Dr. Yvonne Kline, along with Dr. Marisa Altieri, performed surgery on Petey, and what they found in his the abdominal cavity was astounding. It turned out to be a toilet brush, approximately 15 inches long! The brush end was stuck in Petey’s esophagus, while the handle stretched his stomach to several times its normal length.
ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Kline (left) with Petey and Charesse (right)
The doctors considered pushing the brush from Petey’s stomach, but it was lodged tightly in his throat. The only other option was to make a small incision into the stomach and extract it. They did so, and gently removed the brush.
“It was the one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen in veterinary medicine and the strangest surgery I have ever performed,” Dr. Kline says.
The next day, Petey was eating again, and staff noticed how affectionate he was. Petey is taking medicine to relieve gagging symptoms and eating multiple meals a day to gain weight.
After days and sleepless nights spent worrying about Petey, Charesse was immensely relieved. Her “miracle dog” is working on one important New Year’s resolution: not to swallow anything larger than dog kibble, or maybe the occasional treat!
Marcus Graham, ASPCA senior animal care technician (left) with veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Kline (right)
While winter weather poses many threats to animals, perhaps one of the most serious dangers occurs when cats and other small animals seek warmth from the engines of parked cars. One such unlucky cat was Flapjack, a tiny kitten found on the side of the road in New York City last December. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan spotted Flapjack and brought him to the ASPCA Animal Hospital.
It was clear that Flapjack had been caught in a car’s engine. He was suffering from multiple serious injuries, including a fractured lower jaw, a severe tongue laceration and other wounds.
ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Maren Krafchik says the hospital staff performed the first of three surgeries on Flapjack that same day, including using wire to repair his jaw and inserting a feeding tube to help him eat.
This brave little kitten is now happy and healthy with his foster parent, an ASPCA veterinary technician. He had his feeding tube removed and can now eat normally, and the swelling he experienced as a result of his injuries has gone down a great deal.
We’re so relieved that Flapjack has recovered, but his story provides a valuable lesson to anyone who drives during the winter months. According to Dr. Krafchik, there are multiple ways to prevent such injuries, including:
knocking on the hood of your car
honking your car’s horn
checking under your car’s hood to ensure that a small animal is not inside. If you start your car and hear something unusual, turn off your engine immediately.
Luckily, this was just the beginning of a transformation for Red. When he arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, he was thin and had multiple wounds on his head and leg. Red received treatment including IV fluids, pain medication and antibiotics. After six weeks of care and recovery, Red was ready to find a new forever home.
Just before Christmas, Red went home with adopter Zach C. to begin his new life as a beloved pet. Red, now known as Hank, is thriving with Zach and his cat, Frank.
"ASPCA volunteers stayed late so that I could bring Hank home before the Adoption Center closed for the holidays,” Zach says. “Hank is now part of the family and adds his own personality to an already happy home. There's nothing like waking up with a dog who is excited to play and hang out with me all day.”
Zach reports that while he was initially nervous about Hank and Frank getting along, the two are very curious about each other and love to compete for the attention of Zach and his girlfriend.
We’re thrilled that Hank is so happy and healthy in his new home. Unfortunately, thousands of animals are victims of cruelty nationwide. If you live in New York City and witness animal cruelty, please call 311 (or 911 for crimes in progress) to notify the NYPD. To learn how to report cruelty in your state, please visit our Reporting Cruelty FAQ.
Ready to help more animals like Hank in 2014? Join us! Become an ASPCA Guardian, and for just a few cents a day, you can make a huge impact on countless lives.
Last fall, NYPD patrol officers responded to a 311 call and found two underweight dogs living in deplorable conditions in a Bronx backyard. The officers brought the dogs, Hall and Oates, to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where our veterinarians treated them. The owner was arrested and charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Hall and Oates were part of the first group of animals to benefit from a new partnership between the ASPCA and the NYPD. With this groundbreaking collaboration, which started with a pilot phase in the Bronx in September 2013, the NYPD will now take the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in NYC’s five boroughs. The change—given the NYPD’s tens of thousands of officers across 77 precincts—will allow for a swift response to abuse complaints and expedite the ASPCA’s treatment and rehabilitation of abused animals.
In the first several months of the partnership, the NYPD received nearly 800 hundred calls from the public about suspected cruelty. Twelve arrests were made, and more than 30 animals were treated at the ASPCA.
The arresting officer in Hall and Oates’ case was moved by the experience. “I am going to look further into this matter and try to make a change,” the officer said at the time. “A lot of officers are interested in what I did today.”
If you live in New York City and witness animal cruelty, please call 311 (or 911 for crimes in progress) to notify the NYPD. To learn how to report cruelty in your state, please visit our Reporting Cruelty FAQ.
At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, our veterinarians provide world-class care to each one of our patients. But there is another group of clinical staff members whose day-to-day work is crucial to the well-being of each pet being treated—veterinary technicians, commonly known as “vet techs.” Although each patient that comes to the ASPCA Animal hospital is special and unique, it is also true that our vet techs repeatedly see the same— sometimes preventable—medical conditions. Since ASPCA vet techs are the front line of our clinical team, we asked a group of them, “What would you like pet parents to know and do to keep their pets in tip-top shape?”
Here’s some pet care advice from ASPCA vet techs:
Geniene: When a cat is having trouble urinating, it is a medical emergency. Urinary obstructions can be fatal. If you see your cat going in and out of the litter box, posturing or only producing a small amount of urine—possibly while crying—bring your cat to the vet right away! Feeding your cat a diet that consists primarily of wet food will reduce the risk of urinary obstructions.
Mary: Spaying your pet is not just about preventing unwanted litters. Animals that have not been spayed are at risk of developing pyometra, an infected uterus. Pyometra is potentially life-threatening, but the risk of developing pyometra is zero when an animal has been spayed. Additionally, the cost of treating a pyometra is many times the cost of spaying an animal. There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your pet.
Temetrias: Cat’s don’t normally cough— if your cat is coughing, you should take her to the vet. A coughing cat may have developed asthma or fluid on its lungs and needs medical attention. A common misconception is that cats cough up hairballs, but when a cat “coughs” up a hairball it is actually vomiting.
Erica: Many people believe that cats are agile, and therefore won’t fall out of windows. Cats can lose their balance, get spooked or react to birds with a strong prey drive. Cats don’t always land on their feet, and a serious fall can be devastating. Cat owners should always have screens on their windows.
Rena: All dogs should be vaccinated against parvovirus. The virus is common, life-threatening and expensive to treat. Puppies and young dogs are at particularly high risk. Have your dog vaccinated, and don’t let puppies’ paws touch the ground outside their homes until they have completed their parvo vaccine series. Dogs can contract parvo from walking in the grass, then licking their paws; from nose-to-nose or nose-to-rear contact; or from smelling feces or drinking out of puddles.
Manny: It’s very important that pet parents walk their dogs on a leash. The majority of cases where dogs are brought to our hospital after having been hit by cars results from dogs being allowed to walk off leash. Having your dog on a leash also helps protect it from aggressive animals. Dogs off leash cannot be kept safe in the way that leashed dogs can.