Sunshine’s future wasn’t so bright when she found herself at the Alachua County Animal Services shelter with an irritating and unattractive skin condition in early October. Fortunately for Sunshine, Andrea Brower, Executive Director of Helping Hands Pet Rescue of Newberry, Florida saw beyond the 4-year old Dachshund’s homely exterior and knew that a special creature lay beneath. “I had this feeling that she needed me,” said Brower. With the guidance of the Dermatology department at the UF Small Animal Hospital and funding from the Shelter Animal Medicine clerkship’s HAARTS program, Sunshine’s story should have ended there – but as it turns out she needed more help than anyone realized.
With her skin condition under treatment, Sunshine presented to the Shelter Animal Medicine clerkship for spay surgery. Under the direction of service chief, Dr. Natalie Isaza, the surgical procedure was going smoothly. As the final sutures were being placed, “she started losing hemoglobin saturation and turned a little blue,” said Dr. Isaza. “We kept her on oxygen and she pinked up, but when we extubated her, she arrested.” The clerkship team jumped into action, successfully performing CPR and re-starting Sunshine’s heart, but the scenario repeated itself each time Sunshine began to wake up from anesthesia. With the help of the Emergency and Critical Care department and x-rays of Sunshine’s chest, the mystery of Sunshine’s anesthetic difficulties was finally discovered: she had an old traumatic injury resulting in a diaphragmatic hernia.
“Diaphragmatic hernias can be life-threatening and we were very fortunate that this was discovered while she was in a facility where it could be repaired promptly,” said Dr. Valery Scharf of the Surgery department at the UF Small Animal Hospital, one of the surgeons who repaired Sunshine’s hernia. Brower was also grateful for the efforts of Sunshine’s team of doctors, saying “I feel confident that Sunshine would not have survived…at any other hospital.”
Brower’s initial reaction was right…Sunshine did need her along with a team of veterinary specialists at the UF Small Animal Hospital. Now fully recovered from her ordeal, Sunshine is hoping to find her new home in time for the holidays.
Since its inception, the HAARTS program has saved the lives of over 500 animals at risk for euthanasia in local shelters and currently relies solely on private donations to fulfill its lifesaving mission.