Dog blogger and broadcaster Steve Friess says he’s not going to spend $5,000 to put his dog though chemotherapy that could extend his life a year or more — and he’s going to try not to feel bad about it.
Even when he says his final goodbye to Jack in what could be less than a month.
In late October, Friess noticed the dog he’d adopted nine years ago was getting lethargic, and that his weight had dropped from his usual 11 pounds to around eight.
A vet diagnosed that Jack had an aggressive form of lymphoma that was spreading quickly through his body.
Friess did some research, checking with friends, and vets, and friends who were vets: One of the latter urged him to “do the full chemo protocol ASAP!” It could send Jack into remission for nine months, or 12 months, or even longer.
Friess and his partner researched, debated and decided against chemotherapy — not because it would be all that rough on the dog physically (they handle it much better than we do). The main reason, he admits, is the money, which, he also admits, they just doesn’t have.
There will likely be those who second guess Freiss, or maybe try to lay a guilt trip on him: Take out a loan, hit up your friends, get a second (or third) job, launch an online fundraising campaign, let me be the first to donate.
We’ve become a nation of such overflowing compassion for dogs, with such promising new medical technologies, and such handy online fundraising tools at our beck and call, that it’s easy to lose sight that decisions about life and death — both ours and our dogs — are still our own, and that throwing in the towel, for financial reasons, or others, isn’t always a shameful choice.
We suspect Friess will receive some support for his decision, but will hear from many more questioning it. His decision to write about it, as he did in a post for Time.com, is brave, but also an open invitation to second-guessers. In any case, the decision on what’s best for Jack should be (and has been) made by the person who knows him best, and deserves to be respected
Friess, a freelance writer and co-host of The Petcast, said neither his advisers nor his vet seemed to be trying to make him feel guilty about his choice. But, as is the way with guilt trips, we often don’t need a tour guide. Feelings of shame can start as soon as we ask our vet the question Friess did:
“How much will it cost?”
For Friess, the estimate was a minimum of $5,000 — more than he and his partner had.
“(It) means we have about 30 days. The end will probably come in time for holidays … ”We’ve received a lot of advice, both solicited and unwelcome, through social media. Nobody comes right out to say it, but the disappointment some express at our decision shows that they question our love for Jack. In an era when people spend big on animal clothes, artisanal foods and medical intervention, and when medical science makes it possible to spend $5,000 so Jack dies slightly later than sooner, there is pressure to go as far as we can.”
There’s one more twist. Friess and his partner are trying to adopt a human baby, and they’re working on saving the $15,000 fee for that.
“If that $5,000 could cure the cancer and restore Jack’s full life expectancy, maybe we’d do it,” he wrote. “Maybe. It certainly would be a tougher choice. But to buy a year during which we’d be waiting for his lymph nodes to resume their swell? We could endure the end stages either now or later.”
(Photo of Jack by Steve Friess)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cancer, care, chemotherapy, choices, costs, death, decisions, dog, dogs, financial, guilt, health care, jack, life, lymphoma, medical, options, ownership, pet, pets, shame, steve friess, technology, treatment, veterinary
Buttercup can thank dog for being alive.
The Key West cat received a blood transfusion from a dog last month — not an unknown procedure, but a pretty rare one.
It’s called xenotransfusion, and according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine only 62 cats have been known to undergo the procedure.
On Sept. 16, Dr. Sean Perry from the Marathon Veterinary Hospital pumped the blood of a greyhound into an orange tabby, in hopes of increasing the cat’s red blood cell count.
Veterinarians decided to use dog blood they had on hand after learning that suitable cat blood could take weeks to receive.
“It’s a situation where you can’t give type A blood to a type B blood cat because it’ll cause a severe immune reaction,” Perry said. “It was actually safer to give the cat dog’s blood.”
Buttercup’s owner, Ernie Saunders, brought the cat to the vet after it became lethargic, ABC reported.
After a few tests, veterinarians learned Buttercup’s red blood cell count was down to 7 percent. Cats should have a red blood cell count of at least 35 percent, Perry said.
“Cat’s blood is a little harder to come by and not as available as dog’s blood,” Perry said. “We had greyhound blood packs that we get from a blood bank that has red blood cells separated from plasma. Buttercup showed no signs of rejection during the transfusion.”
Perry said as far as veterinarians know, cats are the only animal that accept transfused blood from dogs, and that after it is done once it can’t be done again.
Since the procedure, Saunders said Buttercup has been more active.
In addition to learning about xenotransfusion, Saunders learned something else from the vet visit.
Buttercup, who he thought was a female, is a male.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, blood, buttercup, cat, cat blood, dog, dog blood, florida, health, key west, marathon, medicine, pets, transfusion, veterinary, xenotransfusion
A veterinary student in Poland is facing expulsion after he stitched “I Love You” into the skin of a dog he had operated on — then posted a photo of his handiwork on Facebook to impress his girlfriend.
Staff at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn launched an investigation after becoming aware of the pictures, which have been widely shared on Facebook by horrified dog lovers.
The fourth-year student was not publicly identified.
“Saying you love someone is not a bad thing,” the university’s head of veterinary studies, Andrzej Koncicki, told the Croatian Times.”But the fact this was stitched into the stomach of an animal does seem immoral and unethical behavior from a student of veterinary science … We need to find out more about what happened here.”
The student’s girlfriend defended his actions, saying, “What’s so unethical about it? He’s learnt to sew in order to help and is just showing his skill.”
The university offers a veterinary service for locals including some free treatments to allow students to test their skills, supposedly while under supervision from qualified professionals.
Where the supervision was in this case is among the questions the university says it is looking at.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anger, animal cruelty, animals, canine, dog, dogs, facebook, i love you, image, investigation, patient, pets, photo, poland, posted, stitches, student, surgery, veterinary
For eight years, Fatcat led a life that was the opposite of her name — in many ways.
For starters, she wasn’t a cat.
And, as bulldogs go, she wasn’t too awfully fat.
And, from all appearances, she definitely did not enjoy the kind of lifestyle the term Fatcat name might connote — she wasn’t idly resting in the lap of luxury. Far from it.
Instead, in the eight years after she was stolen as a puppy from the backyard of a home in Memphis, it’s believed she was used to produce puppies, by a less than ethical breeder who dumped her once she got too old.
Until two weeks ago, when she was picked up as a stray and dropped off at a shelter in Arkansas.
There — at the West Memphis Animal Shelter — she was scanned for a microchip, and Harris was tracked down, even though she’d long since moved to the Phoenix area.
Along with the good news, Harris received some bad news. Fatcat was in sad shape due to the years she spent as a baby-making machine — and getting her to Phoenix was going to be a problem.
Fatcat was too big to ride in the cabin of a plane, and between her health problems and her breed — it’s risky to transport short-snouted dogs in a plane’s cargo hold — flying her home wasn’t going to work. Harris, a working single mother, wasn’t sure she could take time off to make the drive.
“I went from the highest high to the lowest low,” she said. Putting Fatcat down was discussed, but before consenting Harris asked the shelter for an extra 24 hours to make the decision.
When she called back the next day to authorize the shelter to euthanize Fatcat, the director of the shelter stopped her short, and offered a suggestion.
A friend of the shelter director who worked with a local rescue group was moving to Scottsdale, and offered to drive Fatcat there.
Harris and Fatcat were reunited last Thursday in a motel parking lot, and between media coverage of the reunion and a GoFundMe.com campaign, donations have poured in — about $6,500 so far — to help pay for Fatcat’s mounting medical bills.
“I am overwhelmed. It is just amazing. People don’t even know me and they are helping me out,” Harris, 34, of Glendale, said. “I’ve even gotten e-mails from the (United Kingdom). … I just don’t know what to say.”
On Monday, Fatcat was checked out by a local veterinarian who found she has heartworms, dental problems and masses around her vulva and anus that need to be removed, according to AzCentral.com
Harris launched the GoFundMe page with a $5,000 goal, and says she plans to donate any surplus to the shelter in Arkansas.
“How do you show gratitude to someone you’ve never met?” Harris wrote on her page. “Even if I don’t have Fatcat home for as long (in terms of her entire lifespan), I feel like the luckiest person in the world right now. I’m just glad she’s finally home.”
(Top photo: Patrick Breen / The Arizona Republic; bottom photo, Fatcat as a puppy, from LaShena Harris’ GoFundMe page)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, arkansas, breeder, bulldog, bulldogs, campaign, care, cashmere, dog, dogs, donations, english bulldog, expenses, fatcat, go fund me, gofundme, lashena harris, medical, memphis, owner, pets, rescue, returned, reunion, shelter, stolen, tennessee, unethical, veterinary
The North Carolina couple that was told their dog would have to be quarantined for six months because he had been sprayed by a skunk has gotten the decision reversed.
Eleven-year-old Simon is back home in Kernersville.
Forsyth County animal control officials gave no reason for reversing the decision, according to Fox News.
Michael and April McQueen’s dog was quarantined last week after being sprayed by a skunk — even though his owners insisted he had not been bitten by, or come in contact, with the animal, other than getting sprayed.
After the incident, April McQueen took Simon to a veterinarian who told her the dog was three weeks late on renewing his rabies booster vaccination.
The vet contacted animal control officials, who informed her Simon had to spent six months in quarantine or be euthanized.
That decision struck many as harsh, including the McQueens — given their dog wasn’t actually bitten.
North Carolina law requires pets exposed to animals prone to carry rabies like skunks, foxes, coyotes, bats and raccoons be either euthanized or quarantined at the owners expense if their rabies vaccination isn’t up to date.
Rabies isn’t transmitted through a skunk’s spray, and Titer tests — as several ohmidog! readers pointed out — can be used to assess a dog’s antibody levels.
Simon’s owners appealed the decision and Simon was released on Thursday with no reason given.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, april mcqueen, decision, dog, dogs, forsyth county, kernersville, michael mcqueen, north carolina, pets, quarantine, rabies, reversal, reversed, simon, skunk, skunked, titer, veterinarian, veterinary, wildlife
Sid, the Leonberger, apparently wasn’t the only dog a Fort Worth veterinarian promised to euthanize, then kept alive for the purpose of harvesting blood.
Millard “Lou” Tierce III, owner of Camp Bowie Animal Clinic, told investigators in a written statement that there were at least five dogs that — after assuring owners he was going to euthanize their pets — he secretly kept alive for blood transfusions and experimentation.
The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has scheduled a hearing on whether Tierce, whose license has been temporarily suspended, should face permanent suspension.
That’s scheduled for May 9 in Austin, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The investigations of Tierce began when Sid’s owners filed a complaint against him.
Marian and James Harris said they took their 170-pound Leonberger to Tierce’s clinic in May 2013 for a minor gland problem. Tierce kept the dog at his clinic for six months, during which time he performed cold laser therapy. In October, though, he told the couple the dog should be euthanized due to a birth defect in his spine.
The couple agreed to have Sid euthanized, and Tierce promised to bury the dog at his farm.
Last month, though, a former clinic employee told the Harrises that Sid was still alive, and being kept in a cage for all but 30 minutes a day.
Upon learning that, the Harrises went to the clinic and removed their dog.
On April 29, the board conducted a clinic inspection and found ”animal organs were kept in jars throughout the clinic. Bugs were visible in exam rooms. Stacks of drugs, trash, laundry, paperwork and other miscellaneous material were strewn about the examination rooms, hallways, stairwells, operating room, laboratories and offices of the clinic.”
Board investigators received a signed, handwritten statement from Tierce that he had accepted five animals for euthanasia and had kept them at his clinic without euthanizing them, the report stated.
Fort Worth police also went to the clinic on April 29, along with an outside veterinarian who concluded three other dogs being held there were suffering so much they should have been euthanized — including one who belonged to Tierce.
According to Tierce’s arrest warrant, a clinic employee told police that Tierce’s dog, a border collie, had been lying on a pallet in the same spot since she started work in June, without receiving medical treatment.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 6th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrest, blood, board of veterinary medical examiners, border collie, charges, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, experimentation, experiments, fort worth, harvesting, health, hearing, inspection, investigation, james harris, leonberger, lou tierce, marian harris, pets, promise, sid, suspension, texas, transfusions, veterinarian, veterinary, warrant
A week ago Saturday, two customers asked her about it, and whether she had a dog of her own.
Indeed she does, one of whom is a Great Dane-Labrador mix named Tucker who, she told the man and woman, was at the veterinary hospital having emergency surgery after he swallowed a tennis ball.
The man commented about how expensive that was probably going to be, and Summitt confided that she’d received an estimate of $2,700.
But Tucker, who she adopted in 2011, was her baby, she explained, and she’d sell her car, if necessary, to pay for the operation.
After the conversation, Summitt got busy behind the bar of the Clinton Holiday Inn, and the couple ordered more drinks and dinner. When it was time to close out their $80 tab, the man filled out a tip for her on the receipt — for $1,000.
“I went back over and said ‘Sir, I cannot accept this, what is this for, why would you do this?’’” Summitt said. He told her to put it toward Tucker’s medical costs.
“I just stood there in shock. I walked around and hugged this couple.”
Summitt, in addition to working three jobs, is a volunteer with a pit bull rescue group, according to CNN, which initially carried her self-reported story as an iReport.
Summitt, 37, wrote a Facebook post about, and it went on to appear, on Easter morning, on the Facebook page “Why Bartenders and Servers Hate People.”
Not everyone believed it initially, but it was true.
Hotel manager Michelle Satanik told CNN she tracked down the customer to verify that the gesture was legitimate.
“Apparently this man does this quite frequently. Just a really nice guy and humanitarian,” Satanik said.
In case that’s not a happy enough ending, Tucker’s operations was a success, and he’s recovering at home.
(Photos: Tucker being dropped off for surgery; the receipt; bartender Chrstina Summitt; by Christina Summitt/iReport)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $1, 000, animals, ball, bartender, christina summitt, clinton, couple, customers, dog, dogs, great dane, holiday inn, labrador, mix, new jersey, one thousand, one thousand dollar tip, pets, surgery, swallowed, tip, tips, tucker, veterinarian, veterinary