It’s not unusual for folks to stop us and ask for help while we’re doing outreach in the community. But if we hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, Wally may not have gotten care for his dog, Chica.
We met Wally while we were providing resources in a homeless camp in northeast Kansas City. He was passing through the intersection on his way home when he did a U-turn after reading our name and the services we offer on the outside of our van. He introduced himself and asked if we might have time to swing by his place afterwards because he was concerned about one of his dogs who had gone missing and came back injured.
After we finished up at the camp, we drove down the street to a gated junkyard where Wally’s truck was parked outside. He motioned for us to pull inside the lot, and seconds after we stepped foot out of the truck, we were swarmed by some of the world’s sweetest, most docile dogs. We asked Wally which one was Chica, but he said she hung back, so he walked us across the lot to where the tan and white lab mix was sunbathing in her favorite spot.
Then, he explained to us what happened.
Chica ventured off and didn’t come home for a couple days. When Wally found her, she was lying in the ditch outside of his scrapyard in pretty rough shape. Based on her injuries, it was clear she suffered some type of serious trauma, like being hit by a car. Wally was devastated, but for families who are already struggling to make ends meet, emergency vet care isn’t always an option. Or they’re hesitant to reach out for help out of fear of being judged or denied services, which means they might have to face the reality of giving up their pet or, sadly, putting them down if they can’t afford services.
Chica started to limp and was careful about not putting a lot of pressure on her front right, but mainly back left leg. Wally thought she might’ve dislocated her hip by the way she was walking because he also has a dislocated hip and walks the same way. At the time, our outreach team didn’t have a doctor on board with them, so they came back with Dr. Ron Orchard from Kansas State University’s shelter medicine program and his students for a follow-up exam (we have a really cool partnership with them where they join us once a month for pet outreach support, and we’re grateful for all their help).
Upon the exam, Dr. Ron was pretty positive that Wally was right, so we created a pain management plan until we could arrange to transport Chica to our clinic for x-rays.
But we came to later find out that Chica was also pregnant.
This was … pretty scary. With her possibly dislocated hip, we were nervous she may have also suffered trauma to her pelvis, which would put her at increased risk during labor and delivery of the puppies. So, at that point, the best option for Chica was an abortive spay surgery. And Wally was on board with whatever would make his girl feel better.
We had to act fast because we couldn’t risk her going into labor, so we got her in the next day to do the surgery. Once we knew she was recovering well and out of the woods (spay surgeries are more extensive when the dog is pregnant), we took x-rays afterwards to address the original problem and confirm our suspicions. She had a fractured humerus (elbow), a dislocated hip, and severe arthritis in her left hip, which could have been a result of the unknown trauma or, maybe, congenital hip dysplasia.
Once she fully recovers from her first surgery, we’ll bring her back in to discuss the possibility of an FHO surgery, which is the removal of the femoral head to restore pain-free mobility. Chica may also have to be on pain management for the rest of her life, and we’ll work with Wally to make that happen and give her the best quality of life.
As for the rest of the dogs on his property, we’re working with him to get them spayed and neutered, as well as get them on heartworm prevention since they live outdoors. We know the situation isn’t ideal, but Wally has a lot of love for his dogs. And he wants what’s best for them.
We’ve learned throughout the years that, sometimes, people just don’t know, which is why we spend a lot of time educating in the community. Or when something unexpected happens to their pet, they can’t bear the impact of those medical bills alone.
That’s why we always do our best to find a way to help because the alternative is more pets in shelters or homeless on the streets.
So please know that we’ll work with everyone, regardless of their situation, when their pet needs resources or care. And even during some of the most vulnerable moments of their life, we’ll always be a place of kindness, love and compassion.