life-saving surgery on service dog

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life-saving surgery on service dog

Post by tree68 on February 24th 2008, 3:14 pm

Blue Ash Doctor to Perform Lifesaving Heart Surgery On Service Dog

Last Update: 2/22 6:41 pm (email from

Dog Comes to Tri-State For Special Surgery

Chewey, the autism service dog

A rare type of heart surgery is scheduled tomorrow in Cincinnati for
a very young patient who traveled more than two-thousand miles for
the chance. The procedure is only performed here.

As Local 12 Reporter Jeff Hirsh shows us, after surgery, the patient
will go home tail-wagging happy.

The tests have been run ... the operating room, ready to go ... the x-
rays ... on hand. So, it's time to bring in the patient.

"Good boy, that's a good boy."

The patient's name is Chewey, a five-and-a-half month old labrador
retriever, who came all the way to Cincinnati from Oregon for life-
saving surgery.

Dr. Kathy Wright, Veterinary Cardiologist: "Chewey will be placed
under general anesthesia and catheters will be sterilely introduced
into his veins through his legs and neck, and advanced up into his

Chewey has a rapid heart rate ... three times normal. But Chewey also
has a big heart, not medically, emotionally.

Mary Shimmel, Chewey's Trainer: "He will be an autism service dog. He
will go with a child who has autism and help that child socialize to
his environment."

Chewey just started a year of training, through an Oregon group
called Autism Service Dogs of America. Without surgery, Chewey would
likely die in a couple of years. The procedure is called radio-
frequency catheter ablation.

Veterinary cardiologist Dr. Kathy Wright is the only person doing
this operation in North America. So, dogs come to the Cincinnati
Animal Referral and Emergency Center from all over the world.

"Every dog that comes in for an ablation is special."

In the 6 hour operation, catheters, little tubes, heat and destroy
excess tissue, bringing Chewey's heart rate back to normal.

Jeff Hirsh: "Now, this particular surgery is not inexpensive, about
6,000 dollars and, because of that, you might think why not just
train another dog, why go through all of this. Well, there's a reason."

"You have to be a dog lover to know the answer."

The answer is the service vest Chewey wears and the autistic child
he'll help, calming that child, preventing emotional outbursts.

"Chewey has an extra special mission in life, and since I know a good
friend of mine who has an autistic child, so there is an added
uniqueness in helping him become a service dog."

The surgery will fix Chewey's heart rate. The love inside that heart
is just fine.

Jeff Hirsh, Local 12.

While the special surgery is expensive, a foundation created by Dr.
Wright and the animal hospital pays much of the cost. About a dozen
such procedures are done yearly.

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