2009-10-01 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Thisis an equal opportunity, “bipetual” appeal, seeking two separate homes for a special needs dog and a special needs cat. Neglect manifests itself in various ways. Too often pets are abandoned because of either diagnosed or undetermined health issues.

Sometimes a cast-off pet is lucky enough to cross paths with those willing and able to invest the resources and care into discovering the reason behind its medical mystery. (Always a dilemma. Rescuers debate whether to extend themselves to a debilitated few or concentrate on the healthy horde, also homeless. It is difficultto strike the right balance.) Once an ill animal is on the road to recovery, the rescuers must find a “furever” friend to take over the labor of love, so they can continue to help future pets in need. Such is the case with both “Phelps” and “Slim Jim”. Perhaps their stories will reach out to that special someone.

Meet “Phelps”: Named for the Olympic gold medalist, “Phelps” is a Retriever mix, about 7 years old (approx. 65 lbs.) that swam across the Babylon canal to Mayhew Ave. in May. He remained an unclaimed stray at Babylon Shelter, listed in “Pets” many times, until Last Hope took him in August. He is a sweet dog, housebroken in the kennel. Phelps likes most other dogs, is excellent in the car, and would be good with older kids. Last weekend he paraded around Tanner Park at the Adoption Fair.

Phelps had a large tumor on his right hock that was aspirated so slides could be tested twice while he was at the shelter. Both times the biopsy came back benign; but as is often the case, when Last Hope had the growth surgically excised in August, the pathology report showed it as malignant- mast cell grade II (2 out of 3) . Presently Phelps is fine but there is a chance the tumor will come back because it was on the leg bone, a tricky spot to get the wide margins needed for complete removal.

Mast cell tumors in dogs are quite common, accounting for about 20- 25% of all canine skin tumors. Surgical removal is the treatment of choice. Since there is such a range in both grade and stage, prognosis varies. The lower the grade, the better the prognosis, but dogs with tumors on limbs like Phelps appear to have a better prognosis than those who have them on other parts of the body.

Following the operation Last Hope was advised by two veterinarians to see if Phelps might be a candidate for a free clinical trial of Palladia, an experimental pill for mast cell tumors. The oncologist didn’t feel he was because he hadn’t had a reoccurrence. Uncertain benefit would have to be weighed against a life long drug with the risk of side effects. Meanwhile some owners can afford expensive radiation treatments right after this diagnosis, but that window of opportunity is passed, and, more important, thousands of dollars for radiation is not an equitable use of limited rescue funds.

Phelps is a happy and lovable dog. Presently he is on prednisone and Claritin daily to help fight secondary effects of the tumor and to alleviate allergy “hot spots” that have cleared up beautifully. Last Hope will provide all medical care while Phelps is in foster care, and will cover the cost of additional surgery if his tumor reappears the first year he is in a permanent adoptive home. If interested in meeting our K-9 gold medalist who will dive right into your heart, please contact inquiry@lasthopeanimalrescue. org or call 631-957-0023.

Meet “Slim Jim”: This emaciated, declawed gray tabby turned up in the middle of a Lindenhurst street. His declawing suggests that at one time he was someone’s indoor pet. A man who confessed not to like cats complained that he had been hanging out for some time, usually in the road, so a veteran caregiver whisked him to her vet. He tested negative for FeLV/FIV. Super affectionate Slim Jim, middle-aged or more, weighs 5 lbs. He should be at least double that.

Hyperthyroidism was suspected. It’s a common condition in mature cats when too much hormone is produced, many times because of a benign tumor on the gland. Cats eat well but continue to lose weight. Because he was such a “lovable skeleton”, Slim Jim’s godmothers at Babylon Town Shelter had a full blood panel done. His thyroid values and white count were quite high.

Slim Jim is now on an antibiotic, then twice a day methimazole which is the pill that reduces the amount of hormone. So far he likes his Pill Pockets. He will need this thyroid drug plus periodic blood tests for the rest of his life to regulate this condition. (His saga is similar to Kember the German shepherd profiled in “Pets” Beacon 9/10/09. Keep in mind, dogs tend to have the opposite issue, under producing the hormone.) I have spoken to several multi-cat owners whose hyperthyroid cats were well-maintained with oral meds for years. There is also a topical version of the drug that you rub on the cat’s ear.

Some owners opt for alternative

methods that can cure hyperthyroidismboth

initially more costly and risky. A skilled surgeon can remove one or both lobes; or the cat can be treated with radioactive iodine. Afterwards, the cat must remain hospitalized one to three weeks while the radioactivity decreases to a safe level. Both these options are beyond the budget of a shelter or rescue group.

Slim Jim is looking for someone kind who has managed a thyroid cat previously, someone who doesn’t mind pilling and petting a presently bony cat. Thecaretaker godmother will provide his adopter with several starter bottles of the thyroid meds. Call 631-661-6164 or Dina the vet tech at Babylon Shelter 631-643- 9270 to see our feline “ThinMan”.

Also for Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter Lamar St. W. Babylon: Small dogs-the sweet female Schnauzer mix pictured last week has now been groomed. She acts like a puppy in the yard. Also a wavy Dachshund/ Terrier. Full Size Dogs: “Hallie” the Pit mix in Cage 38; “Bernie” the senior but peppy Rottie/Shepherd Cage 8. Cats - friendly “Winston” from an eviction; “Leo”- the amiable tabby in the lobby.

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