Shelter Puppy from New York Saved at the Ryan Hospital
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Sickly shelter mutt saved
BY AMY SACKS
DAILY NEWS WRITER
Gail Lustig was doing what she usually does when she picked out a seven-month-old puppy from NYC’s Animal Care and Control shelter last week to give another of the city’s neediest animals a chance to find a happy home.
But days after the dog, Ginger, was placed in foster care, the 25-pound pooch began having seizures.
Dr. Richard Fried of Animal General on Manhattan’s upper West Side diagnosed the pooch as having an abnormal blood vessel in her liver.
Untreated, a buildup of toxins would eventually kill the affable mutt.
“He asked me how far I wanted to go to save her,” said Lustig, a nonprofit animal rescuer who also runs a summer camp in Pennsylvania.
“It’s always a balancing act with rescue - it’s not easy to raise the kind of money needed to have this stuff done.”
So Lustig turned to the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals to help save the ailing Ginger.
Call it a “tail of two cities,” but saving Ginger’s life was the result of a heartening show of unity by veterinarians and animal welfare groups in New York City and Philadelphia.
“It’s a bizarre, cosmic case where everything flowed into the other thing,” said Jane Hoffman, who heads the Mayor’s Alliance.
Hoffman said that while Ginger remained in foster care in New Jersey, the alliance contacted the Alliance for Philadelphia’s Animals, a new public-private partnership with the city of Philadelphia. The group arranged for a special surgical procedure at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania - which assumed the charge of the surgery as a goodwill gesture.
Last Tuesday, it was arranged for Ginger to be driven to a Philadelphia hospital for the life-saving surgery. Lustig left in the Mayor’s Alliance van - driven by retired animal control officer Joe Pastore - and Ginger was transported to Philadelphia.
“She’s doing great,” said Dr. Charles Weisse, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who performed the cutting-edge surgery. Weisse is one of a handful of veterinarians in the country to perform the noninvasive procedure. Traditionally, major surgery requires cutting open the animal and the liver. Instead, Weisse went through the jugular vein to find the abnormal vessel.
He and his surgical team used catheters and guide wires to slowly close the blood vessel and redirect the blood flow through the liver.
“The new procedure is very promising in treating disease,” he said, noting that 75% of the dogs with the disease die of liver failure.
Although the surgery is not available in New York area hospitals, two veterinarians from the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan observed it, in hopes of making it available here.
Ginger’s story illustrates the possibility for every animal in need. “The dog wins, the hospital wins - everybody wins,” said Hoffman. “We know we can’t save everyone, but we want to do everything we can to try.” The next step is for Ginger to be adopted and live a healthy and happy life, Hoffman said.
The Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals, a coalition of nonprofit animal welfare groups, was formed in 2003 to help the NYC Animal Care and Control with its mission of finding more homes for adoptable animals.
The alliance helps ease overcrowding at city animal shelters by placing homeless animals with smaller rescue groups and foster homes, which then help find them permanent homes.
Today, about 95 smaller animal groups fall under its umbrella.
Since the group purchased the van last November, it has helped move more than 300 unwanted animals to new homes.
Still, Hoffman said the coalition is about helping people as much as it is about helping the animals. “If you give them the opportunity to save one of the animals, they work even harder to save the rest,” she said.
For information on adopting Ginger or other animals in need, contact the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals at (212) 252-2350, or log onto www.animalalliancenyc.org. Also visit the NYC Animal Care and Control shelters online at www.nycacc.org.
Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine is one of the world's premier veterinary schools. Founded in 1884, the School was built on the concept of Many Species, One Medicine. The birthplace of veterinary specialties, the School serves a distinctly diverse array of animal patients, from pets to horses to farm animals at our two campuses. In Philadelphia, on Penn's campus, are the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital for companion animals, as well as classrooms, laboratories and the School's administrative offices. The large-animal facility, New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square, Pa., encompasses hospital facilities for the care of horses and food animals as well as diagnostic laboratories serving the agriculture industry. The School has successfully integrated scholarship and scientific discovery with all aspects of veterinary medical education.
Visit us on-line at www.vet.upenn.edu