Petfinder Featured Pet

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meet Casper: Part 2 in a series of Meet the Sweets

Casper is a young shih tzu that ended up in a high kill shelter.  The term high kill is very misleading.  High kill shelters range from poor quality animal control facilities that don't put any effort into rehoming their strays after their hold time is up, to shelters that put extra effort into rehoming the strays but are simply overwhelmed by pet overpopulation.  Not all high kill shelters are heartless.  In fact most of them have wonderful volunteers and staff that are simply overwhelmed with the number of animals entering the shelter and have limited space available on the adoption floor.  In this economy, adoptions are down and owner relinquishment is up due to divorces, job losses, housing changes, etc. The shelters are forced to decide at a glance, which animals are most likely to find homes quickly and those animals go to the adoption floor.  The animals chosen are often those that are younger, those with more somber temperaments, those that are smaller in size, those that are not all black, and those without any medical ailments that would require special veterinary care that the shelter cannot afford and that would make an adopter think twice about adopting.

You can see the dermoid on his left eye...

Casper is such a sweet dog.  He is a small, friendly, white, adorable little dog that has no personality flaws, but he does have one medical ailment.  He has a "dermoid" on his eye.  An ocular dermoid is a mass of skin with hair follicles and glands that is growing on the cornea of his eye.  They can be quite painful and can cause ulcerations and ultimately rupture of the eye if not treated.  He also suffers from dry eye, which is when the eye is incapable of producing the proper amount of tears to lubricate the eye properly.  He requires surgery to remove the dermoid from his eye.

Casper was in a high kill shelter.  The shelter has an agreement with a local dog grooming salon.  The salon routinely grooms dogs that appear adoptable for the shelter before they end up on the adoption floor.  Once this grooming salon groomed little Casper, getting those long whisps of fur out of his face, they noticed the eye abnormality and they knew that once it was noticed by the shelter personel that he might not make it to the adoption floor. 

They kept Casper in a kennel at the grooming salon for months trying to find him a home.  This kept him safe from euthanasia, but no one wanted to adopt him fearing that this growth may be a cancer.  So there he sat.  Being treated very well by caring people, but without a family or a home of his own.

One day I went to work and when I checked my email I read the following plea:

"I went by the shelter today to get some pictures of the dogs and there are shih tzu's (all kinds of dogs) EVERYWHERE. There were some adorable ones that are off of stray holds and there is no place for them to go on adoption row. When I was there taking pictures the workers were going thru the stray hold area and pulling certain dogs out and walking them out the back. I asked where they were going (even though I already knew) and they were being walked back to get gassed. It broke my heart. The dogs were so happy and excited when they were taken out of their pens and one of them kept looking at me as he went out the door. I left crying. There are so many dogs there that ones that are off of stray hold are going to be gassed without even a chance to see if they can be adopted because there is no room for them. (A worker) had to put 30 dogs down yesterday alone. I got a lot of pictures today but I wont be back until tommorrow night to transfer them to my computer and send them out. If you know of anyone that will help let me know. I am pulling some dogs tommorrow that I have rescue for."

I have a Shih Tzu.  Let me tell you something.  I grew up with Pomeranians, then went to a Border Collie mix, then to Golden Retrievers, and NEVER thought I would get a Shih Tzu.  They just were not my breed, and I did not want a dog that needed to go to the groomer.  But he is wonderful!  Shortly after getting him, I took a "How well do you know your dog breeds" quiz on the internet, and there was a question,

" Which dog breed is well known for being cat-like?" 

I cannot remember the answer for certain, I think it said Shiba Inu,  but I was sure the correct answer was Shih Tzu after owning Kirby!  He is so playful, so cat-like that I could not believe Shih Tzu was not the answer!  But it wasn't.  I think the person who wrote the quiz needs to own a Shih Tzu.  Then he/she may rewrite that answer!

So my new affection for the breed pulled me into this rescue effort.  I told them I would take two Shih Tzus even though we were full of adoptables ourselves, but I felt compelled to offer help.  The situation seemed so desperate.  Unfortunately this situation goes on daily throughout our country! 

I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that we did not get the Shih Tzus that were in dire straits  from that shelter.  The good news is that the shelter had so many offers to help that they ran out of dogs before they got to my offer of help!  All the dogs that were at risk, were saved.  Woo hoo!  Then one of the shelter's volunteers thought of Casper, still sitting at the grooming salon waiting for a family.  I am sure with me being a veterinarian, they thought I would be a safe rescue for this handsome little fellow.  I saw the photos and they described the eye lesion to me.  I agreed to take him in, even if it meant him losing the eye.  He deserved a chance at a good home. 

Casper arrived at our clinic about a week later, groomed and handsome wearing a little doggie bandana.  He had a little note from one of the girls from the grooming salon describing him and his likes and his dislikes to the best of her ability.  The affection for this little boy was obvious.

I updated Casper on all the veterinary care he was lacking, which was a rabies vaccine, and a microchip, deworming, and flea and heartworm prevention.  He was already neutered, and had a distemper combination vaccine at the shelter.  We performed some tests on his eyes and discovered that he had dry eye, and began treatment for that right away.

A volunteer/friend of mine took Casper to a veterinary ophthalmologist to be evaluated.  His dermoid would require removal for best eye function and comfort.  His eyes were inflamed so he started Casper on medications to decrease inflammation prior to the surgery.  His recheck visit will be next week.  At that point, if all goes well, he will be scheduled to undergo the surgery.

Here is the part of rescue that I dislike.  Requesting help of others.  We need to raise about $900 to cover the costs of the surgery, exams, and testing done on Casper by the veterinary ophthalmologist.   This is the expense for the veterinary ophthalmogist, not for what our rescue has provided for him.  If you would like to help, please send a check or money order to South Hamilton Animal Alliance PO Box 354 Jewell, IA 50130, or make a paypal payment to at , or we can take credit card donations over the phone at the office.  If you prefer to call the veterinary ophthalmologist's office where the surgery will be performed so you can put money down on his surgery, just let me know at and I will forward that information on to you.  Soapbox done.

Now for the great news.  Casper has a new family.  They are a couple with seven (yes I said seven!) children ranging in age form pre-kindergarten to high school.  Casper is LOVING living at that house and doing very well!  When he is declared healthy after the surgery, he will officially be theirs.  I rechecked his eyes today and the tear production is at it's highest level, the inflammation is all but gone, and there are no signs of ulceration or damage to the cornea at this time.  He is healthy and loved by his new family.  His new Dad is a big bear of a guy that turns to a cub at the mention of his new dog.  His new Mom is slowly being cured of her fear of dogs, as Casper inches his way into her heart.  He has made that family his own.  This is a happy ending for Casper.  It was all made possible because caring people stood out on a limb for a dog that they knew deserved to be loved, and had so much love to give. 

When is the last time you stood out on that limb?

(Just an FYI... those of you who are Followers on this blog, thank you! If you want to receive the blog into your email inbox, you need to go to, and enter your name into the subscribe box on the upper right side of the page. Wait for the blog to send you a confirmation email, then reply and you will receive the blog when it is published. Much easier than you going to look for it! Please, continue to follow and please subscribe!)


Veterinary Rescuer said...

I am an Admin to animal crosspostine site you are welcome to join & crosspost your animals there & it helps to have a pic of them & if you need any help I will be glad to help you its free & gets sent all over & we also can help with transporting if need be
Sissy Moss Admin Waystobeanangel

Patti said...

Bless you for the effort you put forth in rescuing these wonderful creatures! You are an Angel sent from Heaven!