Not The Way To Ring In The New Year!

Nobody wants to come home to sick pet, let alone coming home from a vacation to a very sick pet. But this was reality for Samantha when she came home from her Christmas trip December 28th, 2010.

On December 28th, 2010: Sam came home from a trip to Texas. She was so excited to see her puppy that she has been missing for what seemed like forever. When she got to the home where her 8-month old puppy, Thor was, she was greeted in the standard fashion of any pitbull mix...a butt wiggle that makes his body looks almost snake like and a tail wagging so furiously it could easily clear a coffee table.

When she got Thor home, he wasn't his usual self. He wasn't acting sick, but still wasn't acting quite right. Samantha was concerned, especially because one of the toys that Thor had been given for Christmas was MIA. She waited a day to see if he was back to himself with her being home, but as soon as she noticed some blood in his loose poop she decided this warranted a vet visit.
Upon another veterinarians recommendation, Samantha took Thor to the EAC (Emergency Animal Clinic) in Gilbert, Arizona. She voiced her concerns about how she thought Thor may have eaten a toy while she was away. Of course everything from the examination checked out, his temperature was ok, heart rate and respirations were fine. External appearances showed nothing abnormal. So they decide to do an X-Ray. Here is the films of the first x-rays.
According to the vet (and I quote): "Lateral and VD abdominal radiographs show adequate abdominal detail. No obvious obstructive pattern. Stomach is distended with ingesta, not overly distended."

To simplify what that means, the vet is saying that according to what the x-rays show, the stomach is full, but full of food. There is no obvious item in the stomach.

This is where things start to get frustrating. Upon checking in, Sam explained to them that Thor had not eaten in over 18 hours, not to mention she voiced concerns about him possibly eating a toy. At this point you would think that the vet would error on the side of caution and take the owners word for it and investigate further. But no, they diagnosed Thor with "Stress induced colitis" and gave him Metronidazole (an anti-parasite medication) and sent Sam and Thor on their way with instructions to return in a few days. Of course the vet was nice enough to end her report with "Thor is a really nice doggie. Hope that he feels better really soon." Yay! Comforting. $353.98

Sam went home, feeling no more at ease than she did before the doctors appointment. As the night wore on, Thor started having large amounts of diarrhea with more blood in it. She didn't feed him any dinner or breakfast.

The more she thought about what the doctor said the more Sam became unsettled. She started to look at the X-rays herself and got a 2nd opinion. What concerned her was this:
What she believed to be an obviously squeaker surrounded by a cloudy mass.

She went back to the EAC to express her concerns. She showed the doctor what she saw in the x-rays and the doctor said that they were concerned about it as well. They gave Thor some wet food with Barium mixed with it, and told Sam that they would like for her to come back 5 hours later to have more x-rays and tests done.
New Diagnosis- Suspected Gastric Foreign Body $299.01

10pm-Samantha brings Thor in for yet another set of x-rays. Doctor's notes: "5 hours post barium administration. Barium still present withing the stomach, stomach moderately distended-suspect gastric foreign body partial outflow obstruction"

What the doctor is saying that the stomach has something in it large enough to block the barium from leaving the stomach. And that now it is swelling since nothing can leave the stomach.

That confirmed what Samantha was telling them all along. She asked them what the least invasive means of retrieving the toy would be. Normally it would be an endoscopy, however, since they insisted that a barium test be done, an endoscopy is now impossible because they wouldn't get a clear image of the scope because of the barium that was lingering in his stomach.

They told her at that point it was an emergency situation and they would need to do emergency surgery, NOW.

Imagine how Sam must have felt at this point. Poor Thor had been poked and prodded at on several occasions...he was scared, hungry, and not feeling well. She was afraid he may not even live through the ordeal. So understand that Samantha was feeling all of that emotion, and the EAC slaps on the added discomfort of telling her that they can't do the emergency surgery until she pays for it upfront. And that what she would have to pay was: $2,665.53

Sam utterly defeated, tired, emotionally and financially drained returned home in an attempt to sleep while her puppy, her best friend, lay on an operating table, his life hanging in the balance.
Surgery went well fortunately, the entire toy was removed, and without any obvious signs of damage.
It was decided that Thor needed to stay a day for observation. They needed to make sure that he was even capable of eating food on his own any more. What a trooper Thor was, on a cocktail of pain killers, iv meds, and sedatives he was eating food like a racehorse. The poor boy was starving!
The single day of observation ended with a pricetag of $596.93

Thor is now home, healing well and his owner resting just a little bit easier now.
What was the toy do you ask?
An "As Seen On TV" Crazy Critter. Specifically the raccoon. Now, is this a public service announcement warning everyone to throw away their Crazy Critters or boycott them altogether? No, this is a PSA about supervising our pets!

Let's face it, we get complacent, there comes a time when we all give our dogs a toy and hear it squeaking or whatever and leave them to their own devices. But this really does happen. Puppies are not especially smart about what they should and should not ingest. All of us think that our puppy would never do something like that, but how can we say for sure? I'm sure Sam never thought Thor would swallow a 13" raccoon toy whole. But he was being watched by a family member that wasn't supervising Thor with his toys. This was a completely avoidable situation.

Sam and Thor's story is particularly hard given the financial burden right after the holidays. Instead of being on the beach in Mexico celebrating the New Year, they rang in 2011 utterly defeated in an Emergency Animal Clinic.
I can't help but feel that the doctors should be held at some kind of fault. After all, if they had not misdiagnosed Thor with stress colitis, if they had not read his x-ray wrong, if they had not insisted on a barium swallow, he wouldn't have had to have the expensive emergency surgery. So shouldn't they have to compensate Samantha in some way?

The total medical bills from December 29th-January 1st 2011 came to $3,915.45
This of course does not include the follow up visits that will have to take place over the coming weeks and months to make sure that Thor is healing correctly and to have his staples removed. He is also on a veterinary prescribed diet right now.

I have taken the liberty to set up a donation account to help Samantha and Thor with the medical expenses of this whole ordeal. If this story has touched you or you just want to help, please consider making a donation. No matter how small, every little bit helps! Monetary donations are greatly appreciated, but so are gifts of food, treats, and all the stuff a growing puppy would need. The specifics can be on the Donate-You Can Help! Page.

I thank all of you that have found this website, read it's content and are willing to pass it around.