Dog left paralyzed by tornado walks again
High School teachers Steven and Debbie Leatherman headed to the basement with their cocker spaniel Sugar when the tornado sirens sounded in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22.
After turning on the television and seeing what was headed their way, they decided to seek the additional protection of their storm shelter.
Sugar, 10, must have sensed their anxiety. She bolted back upstairs to her own favorite hiding place, under a bed.
Less than a minute later, the twister tore their house apart.
When they emerged from the shelter, debris was all that remained of their home and Sugar was missing. Their son Daniel, a University of Missouri student, drove home from Columbia the next morning, helping his parents sift through the rubble and seek out their dog.
Meanwhile, Daniel’s aunt in Kansas turned to her computer, searching for a clue to Sugar’s whereabouts.
On Facebook she found a dog resembling Sugar that had been picked up in a storm ditch several blocks from the Leatherman’s house. The dog’s rear legs were paralyzed and she was unable to get out on her own.
At the Joplin Humane Society, a veterinarian advised the Leathermans to seek care for their pet in another city, due to the strain on resources in Joplin.
Daniel Leatherman called the University of Missouri Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, where vets agreed to take a look.
The next day, Fred Wininger, an assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine, examined the dog and noted that while she had no use of her hind legs, she retained pain sensation in her paws. He determined she had sustained something called a traumatic T12-13 intervertebral disc rupture.
Wininger explained: “The intervertebral disc is like a jelly donut that is soft at its core and harder on the outside. Its function is to cushion the vertebral bones around the spinal cord. With severe enough injury, the “jelly” center, also known as the nucleus pulposus, can extrude out of the shell and compress the spinal cord.”
The rupture caused severe bruising to Sugar’s spinal cord and mild subluxation, or malalignment or the bones. Wininger performed a surgical procedure known as a hemilaminectomy, which created a window in the vertebral bone allowing him to decompress the disc and hemorrhage that was pushing on the cord.
Two days after surgery — and every day for seven days — therapists electrically stimulated Sugar’s hind limbs to help prevent muscle atrophy, and the dog began underwater treamill therapy as well.
On June 6, two weeks after the tornado, Sugar began to show movement in her hind legs for the first time.
The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital through its Silent Partners Fund and College of Veterinary Medicine absorbed the cost of Sugar’s treatment and therapy. Orscheln Farm and Home in Columbia also helped out by donating food and toys to help with Sugar’s care.
A little more than a week later, on June 14, Daniel Leatherman collected the family’s beloved pet to continue her recovery at home. “We are so warmed by everything that has been done,” he said. “It has given us back our family.”
(Source: University of Missouri News Bureau)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, cocker spaniel, college of veterinary medicine, daniel leatherman, debbie leatherman, disc, dogs, electric, facebook, found, fred wininger, joplin, lost, misouri, paralyzed, pets, rear legs, reunited, rupture, spinal cord, steven leatherman, stimulation, subluxation, sugar, surgery, therapy, tornado, university of missouri, veterinary, veterinary medical teaching hospital, victims, video, walks