Our October spay/neuter clinic started out like every other clinic. We opened doors at 7:30am and began the mad dash of welcoming and checking in our clients. They filled out and sign some forms, then trustingly hand their dogs over to us. We weighed each one, and got them settled in a kennel to wait their turn for surgery. Vet staff sorted paperwork, vaccinations, microchips and got everything in order to begin. It was business as usual.

Throughout the day, we had a few procedures that went a little longer than expected so we had dogs like Blue, patiently waiting his turn. Finally, it was Blue was prepped for surgery and everything went according to plan: from the administration of the anesthesia, to the actual neuter procedure, then his move to the recovery area were our Save-a-Bull volunteer team keeps the pups warm and assists with waking them up.

Just like all of the dogs before him, Blue awoke on his own and became alert. But within seconds that all changed and Blue was gasping for air. The volunteer sitting with Blue immediately alerted the veterinarian team, who jumped into action and began assisting Blue to breathe. They were able to stabilize him, but he kept lapsing and struggling to breath. The AHS veterinarian team recommended that Blue go to the nearby emergency vet and stay the night for observation and testing to determine what was happening.

Every surgery comes with risks, and while unexpected and extended situations are not part of the Fix Your Pit program, we knew emergency care was going to be really expensive. We told Blue’s family that we would cover the costs of his night at the e-vet.

At the e-vet Blue received a chest xray, it was discovered that Blue had a birth defect that has resulted in an enlarged heart. This is what made the surgery very hard for him and caused him to crash in recovery. Since Blue is only four months old and had never been to the vet, no one had any idea of his condition. Now, his family had very few options: they could transfer him to the U of M for a consult with a specialist (which is very expensive); or they could make the decision to euthanize him (the severity of his condition will continue to progress as he grows older and he could pass at any time); or, they could just take him home, limit his exercise, and see how he does. Blue went home with is family the following day. He’s currently happy and doing well with restricted exercise, and is hoping to see a cardiac specialist for further recommendations.

If Blue’s family had not had the opportunity for the free spay/neuter clinic, they may never have known about his heart condition. With too much exercise, Blue could have died of heart failure with no warning. While there may not be anything that can be done for Blue’s heart, his family is aware of his limitations and is living every day to the fullest and loving him like crazy for whatever time he has.

While Blue’s “surprise” is the most severe we’ve encountered at a clinic, we often see dogs that require a little extended care beyond the spay/neuter services we offer. From hernias, to tooth extractions, to minor skin and ear infections, we do our best to send each dog home with everything he or she needs. This of course goes above and beyond our budget for the Fix Your Pit program, but how can we say no? Your donations make this possible and there are many, many dogs like Blue who are so very grateful for your generosity. For many it’s not only a free spay/neuter, but a chance to be seen by a vet and get much needed care for the very first time. Thank you!