Ali Thompson of Bradenton, Florida is a dedicated veterinarian who goes above and beyond the call of duty to protect animals. So when Bunny the Pit bull was brought to the emergency room, Thompson knew exactly what was wrong and what she had to do.
The 13-week-old puppy was in poor condition when it was brought in. According to Thompson, the Pit bull had a locked jaw and was “as stiff as a board.”
“I took one glance over my shoulder and said, ‘That dog has tetanus.'”
“All four limbs were outstretched into total rigid extension… think 2 x 4 stiffness and you’re getting somewhat close. She was completely paralyzed and felt like a wooden coffee table. She was convulsing so badly it made my muscles ache. Her heart rate was terribly high. The look of fear and confusion in her eyes was just as bad.”
The veterinarian explains,
“Tetanus is actually very rare in dogs. Humans and horses are much more vulnerable to the disease. It is a bacterial infection that causes ascending paralysis. It is something you might not ever see in your career, and if you do, you more than likely won’t see them survive to tell about it.”
Saving Bunny from the infection would mean weeks of intensive care: nursing, IVs, dropper feedings, name it. And even with all that tending to, there was a large chance the Pit bull would not survive the strain of the bacterial infection.
What was even more heartbreaking was the fact that Bunny’s owner couldn’t afford the total cost of treatment.
“I told him of the diagnosis. He thought it was ‘tendinitis’ to which I sadly had to correct him on. No sir, she has something much worse than that, this is TETANUS… Like old rusty nail in your foot tetanus and it’s very very bad. I told him she could possibly live but it would take A LOT of time and A LOT of money and, even then, there’s a 50 – 70% chance that she would not survive. Sadly, he would have no choice but to put her down.”
This tugged at Thompson’s heartstrings. She knew right then and there what she wanted to do.
“I decided in my head that I was gonna be a crazy person and try to take this on. I’m gonna do everything I can to try and get her to survive.”
It would prove meticulous to treat the dog but Thompson was set on helping Bunny get better.
Tetanus treatment includes keeping the dog in a dark, quiet area (to avoid seizures and muscle spasms that stem from stimulation), making sure it wears a sleeping mask over its eyes, administering IV fluids to prevent dehydration, and feeding with a dropper.
“That first night was terrible. I couldn’t get an hour of sleep in. She required constant care. And I mean constant. In any other case scenario, this patient would have been at a specialty care hospital with teams of nurses and doctors overseeing the case 24/7 for what I’m sure could have easily exceeded $10-15,000. I had myself and a makeshift treatment room at my house.”
Thompson would also move the dog’s limbs around from time to time to prevent bed sores and help loosen its muscles. Despite the difficulty and risks, the veterinarian refused to give up.
She saw her efforts slowly paying off one afternoon when she went home to check on Bunny.
She saw Bunny outdoors with her husband, getting some fresh air. To her surprise, the Pit bull began to run towards her when it saw her getting out of the car. It was such an amazing sign of recovery and it just kept getting better.
Ali and her husband just knew they couldn’t bear to part with the pup.
Now, Bunny is doing well and is enjoying her role as the newest member of the veterinarian’s family.
It was a journey that definitely proved how brave and strong the Pit bull was.
“Bunny would not be alive and now walking around on her own if her owner hadn’t signed her over to me. I am so thankful to him. I didn’t meet him, but I’ll always remember the selflessness that he showed to his puppy that I’m sure he already loved.”
Thanks to Thompson’s efforts and Bunny’s resilience, they now have happier days to look forward to together.
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