When Chance first came into the San Jose Animal Care Center (SJACC), it was evident that his left hind leg was badly injured, reportedly after he was hit by a car. Chance had suffered a degloving injury, which means that the skin was missing from his leg, leaving the bones in that area exposed. To make things worse, the bones in the affected area of Chance’s leg were not attached and connected like they should be. The injury was gruesome, but Chance was otherwise in good health and spirits.
Veterinarians at SJACC made sure Chance was comfortable by giving him pain medications along with antibiotics to fight infection. The vets bandaged and splinted Chance’s leg and changed it daily while waiting for an owner to come to the shelter and claim him. The wet-to-dry bandages also served to clean out the wound from dirt, debris, and dead tissue, allowing fresh tissue to take over.
The summer is when kitten season is in full swing. Because cats are such prolific reproducers, animal shelters tend to become overrun with kittens during the summer months (or, more accurately, most of the year in California animal shelters). With such a high influx of kittens, it is often hard for shelters to keep up with them and the care they require.
Many shelters euthanize kittens under two pounds upon entering the shelter, even if they are healthy. You can imagine what the fate is for kittens that are not healthy. The San Jose Animal Care Center (SJACC) does not follow this practice. Rather, the SJACC has worked hard to save a higher percentage of kittens each and every year and has gradually decreased the weight at which the shelter’s veterinarians feel it is safe to perform surgery (using special protocols for these fragile mini-kitties) and adopt out kittens. As of 2014, the minimum weight kittens must be for surgery to be performed at SJACC is 1.3 pounds.
In June we had a Poodle Mix in our care at the San Jose Animal Care Center that had a peg leg. Essentially the dog’s right hind leg was not able to bend in a normal way so it just stuck out and got in the way and impeded her mobility.
Although there is no way to know this dog’s history, we believed that this dog had fractured the femur on the right hind leg and it was not given swift and proper care, resulting in what is known as quadriceps contracture.
The following is what the Merck Veterinary Manual has to say about the condition:
“Quadriceps Contracture (Quadriceps Tie-Down, Stiff Stifle Disease)
This serious fibrosis and contracture of the quadriceps muscles develops secondary to distal femoral fractures, inadequate surgical repair, and excessive dissection in young dogs. Adhesions develop between the bone, periosteal tissue, and quadriceps muscles, which lead to limb extension, disuse, osteoporosis, degenerative joint disease, and bone and joint deformations. Clinical signs include hyperextension and cranial displacement of the affected limb. Surgery is usually required to resect fibrous tissues and increase motion of the stifle joint. Bone and soft-tissue reconstructions along with postoperative flexion bandages and physical therapy are required to recover limb function. Prognosis is guarded. Prevention of the condition by accurate, biologic stable repairs of bone fractures is preferred.
While there are options available to treat animals with femur fractures so as to minimize or eliminate the risk of quadriceps contracture, it can happen fast (within a day) and be permanent! Fast surgical correction of the fracture paired with rehabilitation is often the key to preventing it from happening. If you are looking for a rehabilitation facility in your area, please visit the Canine Rehab Institute’s page and select Find a Therapist.
Unfortunately, this dog was not so lucky and had been living with this leg for who knows how long.
The only option for this dog was surgery to amputate the burdensome leg.
In the following two photos you can see abnormal positioning of the dog’s right hind leg. This is particularly evident when the leg is manipulated in the second photo but does not bend in a normal way, but rather remains locked.
Pixie came to the San Jose Animal Care Center with a broken radius and ulna on her right front leg. The veterinarians gave her medications to relieve the pain from her injury and took x-rays of her injured leg.
Fortunately, the fractured bones weren’t displaced from each other, and we predicted that she would be able to make a full-recovery if the leg was kept in a splint for the eight weeks it would likely take to heal.
Unfortunately, in a municipal animal shelter with a high intake, we are unable to keep animals in our care for long periods of time, so we depend on our partnered agencies and animal rescues to take animals (like Pixie) from us to provide the time and care needed to bring them back to health. Oftentimes, we will provide financial support to these organizations for fixable problems so as to facilitate this process. If no rescues or partner agencies show interest by a deadline (which is easily extended), the animals may be euthanized.
With Pixie, the shelter reached out to rescue organizations, yet no one was interested in the adorable tan chihuahua. Sadly chihuahuas are all too common in shelter environments, and consequently, they may be overlooked.
While Pixie was in the shelter, she showed no interest in people. She seemed very timid despite my best efforts to win her over. When her rescue deadline date arrived, I went in to examine her as per usual and she was a completely different dog. She was at the front of her kennel, eagerly soliciting my attention.
I was so happy to see that Pixie had turned a corner, but when I looked at her records on the computer, I was surprised that no rescue showed interest in her.
Given the transformation she had made, I was determined to reach out and ensure she was rescued. I went back to her kennel and took the following video of her.
Jonah – Puppy Surrendered by Owner for Euthanasia, Shelter Vets Reach Out to Specialty Practice for Life-Saving Surgery
One morning, a two-month old pit bull puppy was brought to me in the clinic. The front desk staff indicated that the owners claimed he was hit by a car and had a broken leg. The owners surrendered him to the shelter for euthanasia.
As if that wasn’t sad enough, I was also told that while the owners were waiting, they were on the phone with a dog breeder, arranging to get another puppy.
My heart sank.
I must give the owners credit for at least taking the dog to a veterinarian before bringing it to the shelter. However, paying a large sum of money for a pure-bred “special” breed of pit bull only to not be able to afford the care that it requires is irresponsible.
Meet Broozer! Broozer and his owner were attacked by another dog. While his owner ended up in the hospital, Broozer ended up at the San Jose Animal Care Center as an emergency.
Despite sustaining a open fracture to the tibia on his left hind leg along with some other, more superficial injuries, Broozer was super sweet to us when he showed up. He allowed us to give him pain medicine and splint his broken leg without any resistance.