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Team Effort Saves Dog's Life

December 19, 2014

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Asia before surgery

What's New Image

Asia after surgery

Written by Caitlyn Hwe, Class of 2017, and Dr. Chumkee Aziz, resident in the Koret Shelter Medicine Program

By the time Asia, a 4 year old female pit bull, came to the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless in October, she had difficulty walking. A large tumor (that first appeared in April) covered her right hind limb and had become infected. 

Asia’s owner was able to take her to a veterinarian once in April, but was thereafter unable to obtain adequate care for the tumor due to a lack of finances. So he brought Asia to the Mercer Veterinary Clinic, a non-profit organization run by UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine students that provides subsidized veterinary care for the pets of the homeless community in the Sacramento area.  

DVM students, supervised by veterinarians, hold a monthly clinic to provide care to an otherwise underserved population of pets. With the help of veterinarians who volunteer their time and services both during and outside of the monthly clinic, the Mercer Clinic is able to provide wellness care, spays, neuters, and other surgeries to the animals that greatly need them.   

Dr. Chumkee Aziz, resident for the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis, and the Mercer students on Asia’s case recognized that the tumor was likely cancerous and needed to be surgically removed as soon as possible. However, because the tumor had grown so large, it was realized that Asia’s entire right hindlimb would have to be amputated to fully rid her of the cancerous mass. While the Mercer Clinic fundraises extensively to cover their patients’ surgeries and other procedures, this particular surgery was beyond their budget.

Dr. Aziz and the Mercer Clinic’s surgery coordinator, UC Davis veterinary student Caitlyn Hwe, searched for low-cost surgery options for Asia throughout the community. Fortunately, Dr. Cristie Kamiya and the staff at Humane Society of Silicon Valley (HSSV-Milipitas, CA) offered to perform the surgery on Asia at no cost. Not only did HSSV perform the surgery, but they also covered all of Asia’s peri-operative care, including bloodwork and chest x-rays to ensure that the cancer had not spread anywhere else in her body, the biopsy report, and pain medications.   

Asia had surgery in November and has now fully recovered. After a recent recheck examination, Asia’s owner thanked the Mercer Clinic, HSSV, and Dr Aziz and said that “although [he] initially did not want a three-legged dog, [he] is very happy to see that Asia’s health has rapidly improved since having the surgery.”  He continued by saying that he is “usually the one doing the helping…but with recent personal challenges, [his] world turned upside down.” 

Asia’s story is one of many that illustrates the challenges faced by pets and their loving families who do not have access to affordable veterinary care. Her story highlights the importance of community collaboration and reflects the shared goals of HSSV, the Mercer Clinic, and the Koret Shelter Medicine Program – to help keep pets in their loving homes, to uphold the human/animal bond that everyone deserves to experience in life, and to prevent more pets from entering our community’s animal shelters. 

HSSV’s dedication to helping undeserved pets in our community is a reflection of what it means to be a true “humane society.” Without HSSV’s support and commitment to saving lives, the Mercer clinic would not have been able to help Asia or her owner.  Thank you to everyone who helped Asia!