FOR THE ❤ OF ANIMALS · October 18th, 2020

Saving Sheba

by Vickie Swarowski, DVM


It was a busy Saturday at Murrieta Oaks Veterinary Hospital; everyone was working hard to help all the pets that were coming through the door. We had seen a big variety of patients: from the young to the elderly, the healthy to the sick.

I got that typical sinking feeling when I saw that my 2 p.m. appointment was for euthanasia. These are never easy appointments and are always emotional. In walked Sheba, a 9-month-old female German shepherd with a bandage covering her right front leg. I was confused as to how this would be a euthanasia appointment. I was handed the medical record from VCA California Veterinary Specialists, which showed that Sheba had been seen for a large wound on her front leg. They had placed her under anesthesia and treated the wound, then applied the bandage.

Like all of us, Sheba’s owners had never imagined this would happen to their puppy. They had worked hard and stretched themselves thin to afford the emergency visit. They were heartbroken to hear, when they picked up Sheba from the emergency hospital, that her injury was severe enough that it was going to require long-term (and very costly) bandage changes or an expensive amputation — or they would have to surrender her to a rescue or euthanize.

I removed the bandage to evaluate the wound. It was a large wound over the inside of the right front leg, from above the wrist down past her dewclaw. There was a lot of tissue damage, and underlying structures were visible. It was an extensive wound, but my gut told me that this would heal, given the right support.

My next step was to talk to Sheba’s owners. They were absolutely heartbroken that Sheba was injured, and they felt hopeless that there would be a solution that could fit their budget and allow Sheba to get the care she desperately needed. They had spent all the money they had on her emergency visit and were then told by the emergency doctor that they would be facing thousands of dollars more to treat Sheba.

I just couldn’t see euthanizing a young, otherwise healthy puppy for something that could heal. I told the owners, “Let’s not worry about the money, and let’s try to find a solution for Sheba.”

She was going to need bandage changes and oral medication. She was going to need to be confined to a kennel and kept indoors. We decided it would be best to keep Sheba at our hospital during the healing process.

Sheba was the best patient. She was happy to hang out with us in her kennel. She got her bandages changed every day for awhile, then we were able to start spreading them out more. The healing went very well. The wound filled in, and the new skin started growing. In the last weeks of healing, Sheba would lie down and let us change the bandage with hardly a wiggle.

Tricia, our hospital manager, worked with Sheba’s owners to help us cover the costs of bandage changes and drugs. The owners called on a regular basis to check on Sheba. We all bonded with Sheba while she was here.

The happiest day was when Sheba finally got to go home after spending a month at Murrieta Oaks Veterinary Hospital. Sheba jumped into her owners’ arms and kissed her kids.

This is why we work so hard and sacrifice so much. We know how much joy pets bring to our lives, and we want to see them live their best lives. We may not be able to save them all, but we sure can make a difference!

Sheba heads home with her family.

Vickie Swarowski, DVM


Murrieta Oaks Veterinary Hospital & Pet Hotel | Murrieta, California

Murrieta Oaks Veterinary Hospital opened its doors March 1, 2012, and has been serving Riverside County, Orange County and North County ever since. From the time of opening, Murrieta Oaks Veterinary Hospital has always been known for its kind and caring staff and doctors. Today, we continue the principle of high-quality medicine at reasonable prices. We also offer specialized plans for new puppies and kittens.

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