As an animal lover, you may find it hard to read the story of Heidi, an eight-year-old Jack Russell terrier cross.
Heidi arrived at Lort Smith with an extensive list of injuries resulting from a severe dog attack. Her experience left her with a large wound on her back, a dislocated hip and deep bite marks all over her tiny body.
These injuries only added to all the other medical issues this sweet little dog has had to live with — losing an eye from a previous dog attack, being lame from a torn cruciate ligament, and having a mouth full of rotten teeth.
As soon as Heidi came into our care, our team immediately got to work administering pain relief, cleaning her wounds and creating a plan for the surgeries she would need once she became stable.
It’s hard to imagine how an animal like Heidi must feel when they come into our care. Sore, scared, unsure of who all these strange people are.
As supporters of Lort Smith know, when there is a sick, injured or vulnerable animal, we don’t just stitch them up and send them on their way.
We care for them holistically. We address their immediate health needs, yes, but we also look at ways to prevent any long-term issues arising, and we consider what will be best for their emotional and behavioural needs as well.
In short, we do everything possible for them while they’re in our care, to set them up for the best life possible once they leave us.
Of course, our immediate concerns when Heidi first came in were to minimise her pain and determine the best plan of action to treat her numerous and extensive wounds.
The most pressing was a large gaping flap on her upper back, as well as the multiple deep puncture wounds on her throat and rump. We cleaned, sutured and bandaged her wounds, placed her on fluids and monitored her around-the-clock in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a few days to make sure she would heal.
“The first couple of days were tough, as we were not sure if the skin would hold or become infected,” said Nurse Jessica. “She was on multiple antibiotics and pain relief. We just monitored her and hoped she would pull through.”
“She did not wag her tail once the entire time she was in hospital, no matter how much attention or cuddles she received. She just sat at the back of her enclosure with her head down. It was heartbreaking to see this tiny dog look so … defeated.”
Lort Smith also take an animal’s emotional wellbeing into consideration — because even though we also needed to operate on Heidi’s dislocated hip, her being so flat and unresponsive meant we weren’t sure whether she was strong enough to handle surgery.
And after two vicious dog attacks in a relatively short period of time, it’s no wonder Heidi felt that way.
We knew the only way for her to recover from her trauma would be to provide her with a safe space, somewhere she could be showered with love and attention, and shown that she no longer had to be afraid.
But she needed surgery before she could be placed in foster care. It was a heartbreaking catch 22 situation.
Thankfully, on the third day, Heidi began to move. It was only to lick her bandages — which meant she had to be fitted with a cone — but it was enough of a sign to our team that Heidi wasn’t giving up. That she was strong enough to be cleared for surgery.
A right excision arthroplasty was performed on Heidi’s hip the next day and then Nurse Jessica took Heidi home with her to recover in peace and quiet.
The impact on Heidi was instantaneous.
“I saw her wag her tail the first night I brought her home,” Nurse Jessica said. “I lifted her onto the couch with me, she looked up and her little tail began wagging. She curled onto my lap and went to sleep, perfectly content. She became an entirely different dog once I got her home.”
Despite caring for animals all day as part of their job, a large number of our staff are also foster carers. They volunteer their time outside of work to continue to provide these animals with the best care possible.
After a few weeks in foster care, Heidi came back to the hospital a different dog. Sassy, sweet and lapping up all the attention, we couldn’t believe this was the same girl who wouldn’t look any of us in the eye just weeks before.
We gave her a full dental, including removing seven rotten teeth, and performed cruciate ligament surgery on her right leg. We wanted to ensure that when this sweet girl was finally adopted, she was given the best chance at a healthy life moving forward.
“This is what I still find so amazing about Lort Smith,” said Dana Keirs, General Manager – Nursing. “We don’t just bring them in and make sure they get a home. We make sure they get the best possible home. And we make sure they’re in the best possible shape when they go. “We don’t just do what we have to — we do everything we can to make that animal’s life as best as it can be.”
This is why Lort Smith is worthy of your support. Our team know that caring for an animal goes beyond treating their immediate physical needs. They will always go the extra mile to give that animal the happiest life possible.
A generous donation to Lort Smith today, will go so far in helping us to continue to save the lives of animals like Heidi.