When anything can happen, and anything often does happen here at Pets Alive, you get used to some weird things. Staff finding injured hawks on their way to work, for example. Or the week that for seven days in a row, different people showed up at our 11 am staff meeting with a different stray kitten each day. Things get weird in animal welfare. It’s part of the fun. Since animals can’t talk, you come to accept that you won’t ever know their whole story. But boy, sometimes we wish they could just give us FIVE MINUTES of answers, because you have GOT to wonder how some of these guys ended up in the predicaments they found themselves in.
Take, for example, what happened last week. It’s about five thirty and we’re done with our workday. Sometimes some of us will hang out for a little while after work and give some of the dogs some extra attention or chat for a few minutes. A few of us were sitting at the picnic table by the play yard when a car came down the driveway. We could see a dog jumping around inside, so we all got up and walked over. You can imagine that we were pretty surprised when a smallish black puppy with a bright purple and green cast on his front right leg tumbled out of the front seat, bouncing like a bunny and wagging his tail for all he was worth. A young guy followed right behind him, holding a rope.
This gentleman is in the military, and was driving from Texas to somewhere by way of the extremely busy route 211 in Middletown, right near Buffalo Wild Wings. This black puppy, cast and all, ran up to his car and then started down the side of the road. Being an animal lover, this man knew he couldn’t risk the puppy getting hit on the four-lane highway, so he and his friend used some quick thinking and what they had on hand to capture the puppy, who was moving at considerable speed despite the cast. They searched for the nearest shelter, found us on Google, and drove straight over. Now standing in our parking lot, they relayed the story while the puppy rolled in the dirt, looking incredibly pleased with himself.
Our first thought, of course, was that the puppy had escaped either his home or a vet’s office. We thought it should not be too hard to find his people. We dubbed the puppy Lefty, took him inside, gave him some food and water, cleaned him up and popped him into a crate with a nice soft blanket. He must have been pretty tired, because he was snoring before we even left the room. After getting the man’s contact info, we sent him on his way. The next day, several of us began calling all of the area veterinarians to see if we could find any who had recently placed a purple cast with a green heart on a black, wiggly puppy. And here’s the weird part: No one knew anything. We posted the Lefty’s picture on all of the lost and found websites and started calling other places – doggie day cares, spay and neuter clinics…nothing. No missing puppy with a cast anywhere.
Meanwhile, our Veterinary Liaison, Janet, and our Medical Director, Dr. Joe, set about seeing what was going on with his leg. Dr. Joe removed the cast to find that it had been on Lefty’s leg for quite some time. Weeks, probably. The inside of the cast was filthy and soaked in urine. His best guess was that the cast was meant to be temporary until the puppy could have surgery with a specialist. Obviously, Lefty had never gotten surgery so we immediately scheduled our own surgical appointment for him with Dr. Chad Andrews. Lefty wooed everyone Pets Alive and Wurtsboro Veterinary Clinic with his adorable doggie charm, and has quickly stolen the hearts of everyone involved in his care. For all this poor puppy had been through, his resilience was amazing and a testament to why we do this work every day.
Unfortunately for Lefty, the fact that his cast had been left on so long before his arrival at Pets Alive did more harm than good, and surgery was not an option for him because his break was already healing. On the plus side, although the break healed unevenly, it’s not painful and he does have partial use of his leg. Our surgeon advised that what is best for Lefty is extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation.
An update as of December 23, 2015: Lefty is now living with a foster family who has been helping him get the physical therapy and rehabilitation he needs to strengthen his leg to get more mobility. He goes to acupuncture treatments several times a week and he is getting more and more mobile as his treatments continue. His limp has improved as well. He will only require a few more treatments and we believe that he will soon be fully recovered! We are thankful to the donors who made this possible, to his medical team and to his foster family! Here’s a picture of Lefty in a recent visit to the sanctuary.