Bella’s Close Call: A Happy Recovery for One Car-Hit Victim

August 31, 2018

Bella and her family

When Bella, a 10-month-old Shih Tzu arrived at the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) last April, her prognosis was dire. The puppy had bolted from her Congers, New York, home straight into a busy street where she was a struck by a fast-moving car. 

“She always comes back when we call her name, but this time she ran across the street,” says Wislande P., one of Bella’s owners. 

“I ran out and scooped her up off the street. She was crying and we knew we needed to get her to a hospital.”

Wislande, along with Jeff L., who have raised Bella since she was six weeks old, rushed her to a local veterinary clinic and were referred to the ASPCA. There, Senior Animal Care Technician Tyrone Johnson X-rayed Bella.

Bella's x-ray

Post-op radiographs show the extent of Bella’s fractures and where Dr. Gayle made repairs.

“She had obviously undergone extensive trauma,” says Dr. J’mai Gayle, Director of Surgery at the AAH. “Both sides of her pelvis were fractured, as well as her left tibia and left femur. We also diagnosed nerve damage on her right side.”

Dr. Gayle performed a four-hour surgery to repair Bella’s fractures. Following surgery, veterinarians were still concerned that the extent of Bella’s injuries might result in a necessary amputation of her left hind leg.

Dr. Gayle with Bella's x-ray

Dr. J’mai Gayle points to a radiograph of Bella’s fractures, explaining the extent of her injuries.

To help her heal and repair the nerve damage on her right side, Bella needed daily physical therapy. This included helping her practice “placing” her right leg—essentially, using it to walk—to rebuild muscle strength and awareness. She also needed to be kept in a confined space to avoid further stress on her healing fractures. 

While it’s no easy task to keep a puppy still, Wislande and Jeff were committed to Bella’s recovery. They carried her outside for bathroom breaks, performed daily physical therapy and never missed a follow-up appointment at AAH, despite living 25 miles away.

Dr Gayle removing Bella's staples

Dr. Gayle removes Bella’s staples while Senior Veterinary Technician Jennifer Doyle assists during a follow-up appointment.

In late July, almost three months after her accident, Bella returned to AAH for further X-rays, and Dr. Gayle eventually pronounced her fully recovered, which was music to everyone’s ears.

“She looked fabulous! Her fractures had completely healed and she was trotting around the exam room,” says Dr. Gayle. “She’s walking completely normally and seems so happy to just be a normal puppy again.”

Dr Gayle talking to Wislande and Jeff

Dr. Gayle explains protocols for Bella’s physical therapy to Wislande and Jeff. 

Bella’s family is just as thrilled. “Bella is like a sister to our four-month-old daughter,” says Wislande. “She’s one of the family. We’re so happy; her outcome couldn’t have been better.”

Bella walking

Bella attempts walking during a follow-up visit.

Bella’s story is a happy one that comes with a serious message. The AAH treated 61 pets hit by cars or other moving vehicles in 2017, and year-to-date in 2018 has already handled 60 such cases.

“Always be sure your dog is leashed before heading outside, even if he or she is usually obedient,” says Dr. Gayle. “It can mean the difference between life and death or a horrible injury.”