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.
One of the things I love about shelter medicine is the ability of a shelter and its staff to take an animal that would easily be overlooked or considered for euthanasia and give them a chance to heal and get a second shot at life.
There are many animals that come into the shelter broken, malnourished or with various medical concerns that need to be addressed. Oftentimes we become so enveloped in caring for the animal that we forget to recognize how far the animal has come in its recovery. We often think back to the grainy image stored in our memory of the animal when it first arrived in our care but have no actual image to reflect back on to remind us and show others how much of a difference we made. That is why I am going to make a concerted effort to take photographs of animals early on in their treatment so that I can share with you the many success stories that we see in animal shelters.
To start off the Before & After series, it is only appropriate that I share the story of Vinnie.