Originally Published: August 21, 2013 6 a.m.
This is the story of Sanji, a remarkable 18-month-old pit-bull terrier named after a popular fictional character in the anime and manga series "One Piece." Sanji was a powerful martial artist with superhuman strength, speed and endurance - the very characteristics found in his canine namesake.
Our Sanji was rescued recently with an elevated temperature (105F) and a huge swelling on the right side of his head at the base of his ear. There were scabs present too, but the causes remain unknown.
Snake bite and other reasons for the seriously infected abscess were considered. Antibiotic and pain medication was initiated immediately. Two days later, the abscess ruptured and bled into the ear canal profusely.
The Prescott Area Pet Emergency Hospital (located at 2245 Highway 69) was contacted and despite being in the process of closing for the day they graciously performed a coagulation panel. This is a test to identify problems that would explain why Sanji's blood was not clotting. The panel values came back normal; and so the mystery surrounding Sanji's unrelenting and potentially life threatening bleeding grew.
Calls were made to several local veterinary clinics asking for help with this emergency because YHS does not have blood products on hand (such as plasma, blood for transfusion or clotting products). If the bleeding continued there was no way YHS could properly care for Sanji through the night and he might possibly bleed to death.
Prescott Animal Hospital (PAH - located at 1318 W. Iron Springs Road) responded to our plea for help. YHS took Sanji to PAH where additional tests were conducted to rule out clotting disorders. PAH Dr. Steven Dow took Sanji into surgery where he surgically removed all foreign material and dead tissue from the wound and determined Sanji's swelling was the result of a very old, neglected abscess that had eroded the surrounding tissue.
After cleaning the area and removing all necrotic tissue Dr. Dow inserted a drain in the abscess to help accelerate the healing process. Sanji was returned to YHS where he is recuperating nicely from surgery.
Both the staff at PAH and YHS found Sanji to be a wonderful people-oriented guy (who so far seems to get along with everybody, including other dogs and even cats). He will be neutered and placed for adoption at the YHS Pet Adoption Center after his drain is removed. YHS is very grateful to Dr. Scott Reed and the Prescott Area Pet Emergency Hospital staff and Dr. Dow and the Prescott Animal Hospital staff for helping to save Sanji's life.
While most animal shelters routinely euthanize animals like Sanji, YHS operates under a different ethic, which precludes euthanasia until after all other options are thoroughly exhausted. Euthanasia (killing) is only an option at YHS when an animal is irremediably suffering. Suffering is not "irremediable" until all possible treatment options are ruled out. If not for Dr. Reed and Dr. Dow's compassionate intervention, Sanji's suffering could have become irremediable very quickly.
There is nothing more tragic than an animal's suffering becoming irremediable simply because of a lack of resources or the will to intervene.
Sanji's story demonstrates the power of "it takes a village" to save lives; and YHS has a program that lets everyone participate in our compassionate and life-saving village.
The program is called STAR (Special Treatment and Recovery); and your donation to STAR will help ensure that every sick or injured animal, like Sanji, will receive the critical care they need to survive. Tax-deductible donations to STAR can be made online at www.yavapaihumane.org/star or by mail to YHS 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott AZ 86301.
Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.