Remarkable Witness to the Human-Animal Bond

by Katelyn Mazzochette, DVM

Most days, I am so grateful to be in the veterinary field. Sure, there are struggles; from loads of student debt to long hours, it can be tough to be a vet. However, our job is always interesting, and it is so rewarding to provide for our four-legged friends. I enjoy seeing the human-animal bond at work each and every day. Our animals deserve the best, for they truly love unconditionally. I feel privileged to work with not only some incredible patients, but also their dedicated, loving owners.

Although all of my patients inspire me on a daily basis, one patient and her family has touched my heart in a profound way. Nya is a five year old mixed breed dog who was tragically hit by a car on August 15, 2018. Not only were her front limbs were completely shattered from the wrist down, but she also suffered some left ankle ligament trauma and superficial abrasions. Her owners, Kathy and Lenny, knew that they could not consider euthanasia as an option. After all, they assumed responsibility for Nya’s health and well-being while adopting her, and she is an important part of their family. Knowing that it may not be possible to fix Nya’s fractures and that bilateral forelimb amputation may be the ultimate outcome, we stabilized Nya prior to sending her to PetER in Towson for continued care. She was then referred to University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital for possible amputation and fitting for prostheses. Penn Vet surgeons offered to try to salvage Nya’s forelimbs, but it would be an expensive and long road. Kathy and Lenny courageously agreed to let them try.

Nya was at Penn Vet for an entire month. Dr. Marie Burneko, a surgery resident, oversaw Nya’s case. Most of the digits on Nya’s left forelimb needed to be amputated, but some of the metacarpal bones and paw pads were salvageable. Most of the skin sloughed off, so just bones, tendons, and ligaments were exposed. Nya’s right forelimb was surgically stabilized with an external fixator, which will hopefully fuse all of the joints from the wrist down. Again, most of the skin sloughed off. A wound VAC (vacuum assisted closure) device was placed around Nya’s front limb and was changed regularly. Nya’s other bandages were changed daily and eventually every 2-3 days. Nya developed some bacterial infections that were resistant to many antibiotics, so she was monitored very closely.
After a long and tiring hospital stay, Nya finally returned home on Friday, September 14.

We have now been helping with Nya’s bandage changes. She needs to be sedated each time; the procedure initially took 2 hours but now is only taking about an hour. There is still a chance that we may need to amputate Nya’s right forelimb, but so far, things are looking good. Nya is a fighter, and she is making improvements with each day.

Just as I am so touched by Kathy and Lenny’s devotion to their sweet girl, I never cease to be humbled by the devotion of so many of our clients to their beloved pets. As pet owners, you sacrifice so much to provide the best care for them. Rest assured that each and every one of my patients touches my heart, and I would love to write about all of them. If only there were enough hours in the day!

Feel free to follow our Facebook page for updates on Nya. Lenny has also created Nya’s very own Facebook page, which is updated regularly. A GoFundMe page is available to help with Nya’s medical expenses. Nya will need to be in her external fixator a bit longer than expected, so costs are unfortunately higher than we had hoped. Nya, get better soon, my sweet girl. I know you will be running around happily soon!

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