Taylor, a seven-month old German Shepherd/Doberman Pinscher cross, was surrendered in Mount Currie by his owners. Lucky for this pup, Mount Currie is one of the many communities that Whistler Animals Galore visits occasionally to provide healthcare for pets.
Like many of the dogs that WAG visits, Taylor was infected with parasites. His stomach was swollen, bloated and filled with fluid, thought to be a result of the parasitic infection.
When his condition didn’t recover, he was sent to B.C.’s only animal cardiologist, Dr. Marco Marigiocco of Canada West Veterinary Specialists, to determine he had a rare congenital heart defect. A membrane had been retained in the right atrium which impeded blood flow returning to the heart, and causing the blood to pool in the abdomen.
Marigiocco tried a less invasive, standard surgical procedure to save Taylor, but he didn’t respond. This determined that the only chance Taylor had was with an open-heart surgery to remove the membrane.
This is when Dr. Michael King stepped in to perform the very first open-heart surgery in British Columbia. Although King and the other vets at CWVS are very familiar in doing procedures around the heart, they had never performed a canine open-heart surgery.
To add to the difficulty, the surgery itself only allows a small two-minute window before the lack of blood flow to other areas of the dog’s body could be fatal.
“So the difficult thing to doing open heart surgery is that you’ve got blood flowing all the time, so you have to temporarily stop that to allow access to work and do what you need to do,” said King.
Amazingly, King performed the surgery in one minute and 40 seconds.
King said that the surgery was everything he could have hoped for and went extremely well. Within a few hours of surgery, Taylor was up and eating and even wagging his tail.
The surgery itself cost $8,000, and after taking into account Taylor’s initial tests, first procedure and the intensive recovery care, it cost over $24,000 to save this pup’s life.
The decision to go ahead with the expensive procedure was not taken lightly by the veterinarians and rescue, but after factoring his young age, his otherwise great health, and sweet personality, they decided he had a good prognosis for a smooth recovery, and will live a completely normal and full life.
The shelter fund-raised to cover some costs, but the remainder of the surgery was covered by the animal hospital and even the veterinarians themselves. The rescue is still fundraising for Taylor’s care so please donate.
After another cardiac ultrasound post-surgery, the doctors were happy to see that the surgery was successful and that Taylor is expected to have no issues in the future.
Taylor is now released to the rescue, and will be on his way to his new home in Metro Vancouver, where he has been adopted by his foster family who cared for him during his many medical procedures.