Thanks to an outpouring of donations from total strangers, Linus has a second chance at life. Many small donations, ranging from $2 to $200, coming from all over the world, paid for a desperately needed surgery that this poor, homeless pup otherwise would not have had.
On March 23, 2012, we pulled a puppy from the Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) Brooklyn shelter that we thought had nothing more than a case of severe mange. But when Dr. Jessica Gentile, a cardiologist at Blue Pearl emergency pet hospital in Forest Hills, examined Linus, she discovered Linus suffered from a severe heart condition called pulmonic stenosis. This disorder prevented his right ventricle from opening wide enough to allow adequate blood flow. Linus was born with the disorder, and by the time he came into our care, he had a grade five-to-six heart murmur and was in danger of imminent death.
Dr. Gentile described for us the surgery Linus would need to save his life. She explained the risks, and the need for the surgery to be performed as soon as possible.
For several days following Linus's diagnosis, Four Paws Sake board members reached out to several veterinarians, including Dr. Stephanie Janesczko from Animal Care & Control of NYC, for advice and suggestions, as well as the Mayors Alliance for NYC's Animals, for guidance. This type of surgery is a "specialized" surgery and should only be done by a cardiac specialist. But now our challenge was the cost for the surgery, and Four Paws Sake is a small organization that relies on donations and adoption fees to care for our rescues. We spent several nights brainstorming, and decided that we needed to hold a fundraiser!
So we put our plan into action. We shared Linus's story on Facebook. The story went viral, and folks from all over the world, including Sweden, Denmark, and South Africa, sent small donations to help with his surgery. Hundreds of supporters joined our Facebook page for daily updates on this incredible, strong-willed pup! Within two days, we had raised enough money to secure a surgery date -- April 12. The surgery would be performed at the Blue Pearl hospital in Manhattan. For the next two weeks, we worked on building up Linus's immune system, and focused on treating the demodectic mange.
On the morning of Linus's surgery, as we drove him into the city, he sat patiently in the passenger seat, looking out the window. As we drove over the Queensboro Bridge, so many thoughts spun through my mind, including "Dear God, I hope he makes it!" and "I pray nothing goes horribly wrong!" I was talking to him, making promises to him, and then apologized to him for the pain he might suffer over the next several days and weeks as he healed. I promised him I would be by his side to help him along..."but Linus, you have to fight. There's a world of supporters out there rooting for you."
I looked over at him and realized how brave he really is. He had no idea where he was heading and what he was about to endure, and yet he sat there trusting this human who he had barely known for three weeks.
Dr. Gentile performed the surgery and was pleased with the results. Now the proper amount of blood should be able to easily flow through the troubled valve.
Linus is pretty happy with the results as well. He has recovered from the mange as well as the invasive heart surgery, and is now ready for adoption. Linus romps, chases balls, and even jumps up to catch the flying frisbee! He is alive and loving life, and waiting for his furever home! He's housebroken, sits on command for a yummie treat, and loves his walks to the park, as he patiently waits for a lick of vanilla ice cream from my ice cream cone. And most of all, he loves sharing kisses with all of his human friends and supporters.
Would we ever do this again? In a "heartbeat!" Just waking each morning and walking up to Linus's crate as he opens one eye and gives out a big yawn and stretch is a gift.
For information about how to adopt Linus, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can help an animal in need by adopting, fostering, volunteering, or donating. Find out how at AnimalAllianceNYC.org.