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Repairing broken bones, finding new homes

What's New ImageDexter's history is clouded, but his future is bright, thanks to a partnership between United Animal Nations and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The humane group awarded UC Davis a Lifeline Grant in 2007 to defray some of the expenses of complex surgery at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, enabling school veterinarians to repair the broken bones of shelter animals at no cost to the shelters. Without this intervention, most of these animals would lose their lives.

Patients receive foster care during recovery, usually from veterinary students, and all pets are spayed or neutered.

Dexter, a tan Chihuahua, arrived at the School of Veterinary Medicine with a fractured front leg. Dr. Jen MacLeod, a faculty surgeon, and Dr. Matt Stepnik, a resident, repaired Dexter’s leg using metal pins placed in a cross to hold the fractured bone in place. Another resident, Dr. Barbro Nordquist, gave Dexter and another dog from the program, Breaker, postoperative care—and a new home.

“They are doing great,” she reported. “They can go for long hikes and runs without getting tired. They have a lot of energy, get along really well, and play indoors for hours.”

The LifeLine Grant benefits animals twice, Dr. Nordquist explained. “The program dramatically increases our exposure to fracture repair, thus contributing to our education,” she said. “We also help give animals a second chance to find a good home and live a long and healthy life."

In April, doctors repaired a fracture of the upper leg on an 8-week-old puppy named Sammy and place an external fixitor to keep his bones aligned. Surgeons had to keep the puppy's still-growing bones in mind as they decided on the best approach. Sammy is now in foster care while awaiting a new home.


This article was originally written for United Animal Nations.