|Paying it Forward - Injured Dog Reaps the Benefit of a Veterinary Student Stepping up to 'Return' a Favor|
It started when a veterinary student rescued a boxer who had been wounded in a dog fight and neglected by her owners. The student found a new home for this dog, but she could not afford the shipping expenses nor to deliver the dog herself.
A truck driver stepped forward to provide a free ride from Oklahoma to Massachusetts to deliver the boxer to her new family. In return that same veterinary student, who wishes to remain anonymous, stepped forward in 2011 to help someone else in need, Katy Ashcraft.
Ashcraft is a Northern Oklahoma College student from Welty, Okla., who plans to major in agricultural communications at OSU. She saw something lying alongside the road while driving. Stopping, she discovered a small dog covered with grime in a mud puddle.
"I took him home," says Ashcraft. "I noticed he had something wrong with his eye. I had toured OSU's veterinary hospital when I was younger and was fascinated with it. I thought it would be convenient to take him there since I go to school there."
Each case at the veterinary hospital is assigned to a fourth year veterinary student, an intern or resident and a faculty member. Ashcraft and the dog, named Toby, were seen by student Sharon Uluh, a Ross University student completing her clinical training at OSU. Uluh took Toby's history, examined him and discussed the dog's condition and treatment options.
Next Dr. Lara Sypniewski, community practice veterinarian and the clinical assistant professor on the case, assessed Toby's condition.
"We scanned Toby for a microchip, checked for any identification and found none," explains Sypniewski. "He looks to be a middle aged male shih tzu mix, covered in mud and grease from the underside of a car. He appears to be healthy except for a ruptured right eye."
Sypniewski found a hole in the center of Toby's cornea and the contents of the anterior portion of the eye were protruding from the globe.
"His eye was covered with dirt and debris and, of course, was noticeably painful. This injury could have been from an acute injury, such as head trauma, or the result of a progressive, chronic corneal injury or disease," adds Sypniewski.
With little chance of saving his sight, Sypniewski suggested removing the painful eye and Ashcraft agreed, despite the cost.
"Between what was left from high school graduation gifts and incoming paychecks from my part-time job, I was able to cover Toby's surgery and medical care," says Ashcraft. "Dr. Sypniewski asked me about having him neutered while he was under anesthesia for his eye surgery but I declined because I couldn't afford the added cost."
Toby received an antibiotic to help reduce the infection in and around the affected eye before surgery, as well as pain medication.
"We gently cleaned Toby's eye and sent a topical antibacterial ointment home with Katy," says Sypniewski. "Thanks to Toby's small stature, we were able to provide a ‘no charge puppy pack' sample of Revolution, a topical anti-parasitic and anti-helminthic that helps to prevent heartworms, fleas, ear mites, sarcoptic mange and certain types of ticks. It also helps to control hookworm and roundworm infestations."
Six days later, Ashcraft brought Toby back for surgery.
"The morning of Toby's surgery, I mentioned to a fourth year student, who would be assisting during the operation, that I wished I could neuter Toby while he was under for his eye surgery to avoid multiple anesthetic events," recalls Sypniewski. "I told her I was unable to do so because Katy couldn't afford any extra procedures."
"When I heard that, I knew it was time to ‘repay a favor' and I told Dr. Sypniewski that I would be glad to pay for Toby's neuter and I wanted to remain anonymous," the fourth-year student says.
The hospital called Ashcraft.
"I was so happy when they called me and asked me about having Toby neutered," says Ashcraft. "It was such a relief because I really wanted it done, but the money was an issue. It takes someone with a big heart to just donate money to a dog they just met. I am so very thankful to that student."
Toby's surgeries were uneventful with no complications, and he went home the next morning.
"What a tremendous change in Toby," smiles Ashcraft. "He went from being a withdrawn, quiet dog to an excited, happy little guy. He is never in a bad mood and he's just an awesome dog!"
Ten days following surgery, Toby returned to the veterinary hospital for suture removal.
"The surgical site healed nicely and his sutures were removed without incident," reports Sypniewski.
"Coming to OSU's veterinary hospital was wonderful," says Ashcraft. "I loved it there. They explained everything to me and worked with me on between my work and school schedules. My veterinary student gave me her number and I called and texted her every day with different questions and concerns. Everyone and everything deserves a second chance, no matter the history or condition. Toby was in bad shape when I found him and Dr. Sypniewski and the veterinary students and hospital staff helped me give him a second chance. I will always be grateful."
And who knows? Maybe someday Ashcraft will have a chance to express that gratitude by "paying it forward" for someone else in need.