GREAT NEWS! The expected costs of Jake’s surgery and post-surgical care have been completely covered by your kind and generous donations! Any additional donations that we receive will be put to good use caring for some of the other many Shelties currently in our care OR, if requested by the donor, returned unspent. THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY! Jake’s surgery (including being neutered) is scheduled for Wednesday, 19 August 2009.
A couple of days ago, Barbara got email from a couple of different people in the world of Sheltie rescue to let her know that there was a dog in the Tooele, UT, animal shelter listed as a Sheltie. Of course, Barbara contacted the shelter right away to get the story.
Now, the Toole (pronounced "too-ell-uh") animal shelter is really tiny, especially considering the size of the population is has to cover, and their resources are terribly limited. Their record-keeping is a bit primitive and, since Barbara didn’t have a name for the dog, the person answering the phone couldn’t figure out what dog she meant. But another person at the shelter who did know what dog was meant called back shortly thereafter. The dog in question had been placed into one of their outdoor pens where all of the animals are consigned that they are not able to fit into their tiny indoor facility. (Remember, this is high summer in the Utah desert!)
The dog, whom the woman at the shelter had started calling Jake, had been found running the streets and had an obviously badly injured paw that urgently needed medical attention. Did I mention that the shelter has virtually no resources? Well, the woman agreed to bring Jake from Tooele to us and Barbara arranged for them to meet at our vet’s offices.
Well, it turned out that Jake had major injuries to his left front leg and the shoulder, consistent with having been hit by a car. The injury wasn’t new, but is so severe that the shoulder bones are sticking in all sorts of weird directions! The vet said that, in such injuries, the dog’s shoulder is thrown back so violently that it literally rips nerves in two. And that explained the paw problems — with the nerves torn, he has no feeling at all in his paw (which is probably a Good Thing, because the paw had been so badly injured that it’s actually missing bones). And, when he walks, he can’t use his left front leg and he drags his paw, knuckles down, along the ground. That keeps the top of the paw completely raw, no skin, only flesh, and ensures that it gets and stays infected.
Our vet said that the only way Jake can live a life free of chronic severe pain is to have the entire leg, including the whole shoulder joint, amputated. And they estimate the cost of the surgery to be around $700.
Now, Jake is one of the gentlest, sweetest dogs you’d ever want to meet. He doesn’t seem to have an aggressive bone in his body and he has fallen completely in love with the idea of being loved. He’s very large, but painfully skinny, for a Sheltie. He weighs about 32 pounds, but should weigh closer to 45 pounds and is easily 20" at the shoulder. He’s got a great sable-and-white coat with a beautiful full white collar…and rather large paws. We think he’s probably around two years old. He appears to be housetrained — he goes potty outside and we haven’t seen him make any such mistakes in the house…not even marking, even though he hasn’t yet been neutered.
But the really bad news is this: It doesn’t take an expert to note that Jake’s head isn’t really a Sheltie head. It’s too large and blocky. There’s also aspects of his body structure and feet, and even of his behavior, that aren’t like Shelties. We think he’s probably ¾ Sheltie and ¼ something else, maybe Labrador Retriever.
And the implication of Jake’s not being a purebred Sheltie is that our board of directors has concluded, with the greatest reluctance, that we simply cannot afford a $700 operation for him. We are stretched ‘way past the breaking point already. We have about 18 to 20 dogs in our house now (I keep losing count!) and expect another this evening, and our vet bill is still well over $9000. We simply do not have the resources.
We find ourselves in the horrible position of having saved a dog from a shelter that might not actually be able to save. I don’t see any options but these three: 1) Raise money in a special fund for Jake’s surgery; 2) Place Jake with a family able and willing to take care of his medical needs on their own; and 3) Put him down. We are not going to turn him back loose on the streets, nor are we going to return him to the Tooele shelter (or any other shelter).
And, still worse, the vet says that he really needs to have the surgery as soon as possible. That, too, is more complicated than it seems, because Barbara’s having her second shoulder replacement on August 31 and will be in no condition to help a large dog in recovery and rehabilitation.
We don’t know what to do. It breaks my heart to even think about putting down a dog as wonderful as Jake is simply because we can’t afford the medical care he requires. He’d make somebody an incredible member of the family. He’s young, otherwise healthy (as far as we know, at least), and is great with cats and with other dogs…and very likely great with kids, too.
Please help save Jake’s life! If you’d like to adopt Jake, please see his page on our web site by clicking here . If you can contribute, please use the ChipIn donation feature in the right column of this page. Thanks!!