WILTON MANORS (CBS4) – A 102-pound, American Bulldog which suffered near deadly heat stroke is recovering at a South Florida animal hospital and likely survived due to the generous donations of strangers and quick action by paramedics.
According to Dr. Joshua Storm of Imperial Point Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, the dog named “Popeye” suffered heat stroke on Tuesday, June 21st, while running next to a man on a bicycle. The man, not his original owner, didn’t even realize the dog was sick. He was given the dog four days earlier by the owner who had planned to abandon him.
Passers-by who saw the dog collapse rushed to help and called Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue. “They rushed to his aid including store owners and random people on the street,” Dr. Storm told CBSMIAMI.COM.
Paramedics gave him an IV for fluids, oxygen with a special mask and provided other vital treatment to fight overheating.
“The paramedics were great in performing life-saving procedures,” said Dr. Storm.
When “Popeye” dog arrived at the animal hospital, his temperature was 106 degrees and that’s after being placed in an air-conditioned ambulance. A normal temperature for dogs is between 99 to 102.5 degrees.
“He was breathing fast, shallow breaths and his heart was racing,” explained Dr. Storm. Over 104 degrees is considered heat stroke.
“Dogs can’t sweat. They try to blow off all their heat by panting. He was way overheated,” said Dr. Storm.
Dr. Storm and his staff treated him aggressively that first night with fluids, cooled him down with ice packs and tried to make the dog as comfortable as possible. Amazingly he survived. After that, they named him “Popeye” for being so strong.
“He made it through the night which was very impressive because most dogs die within 24 hours of heat stroke,” said Dr. Storm. The heat stroke survival rate is about 64-percent.
But heat stroke wasn’t his only issue. He needed a blood transfusion due to the heat stroke which is very expensive. Animal lovers stepped up and donations started coming in including a $1,300 donation from a stranger who doesn’t even live in Florida. With the money, the veterinarian was able to perform a life-saving blood transfusion to fight possible organ failure and gave Popeye antibiotics and other treatments. Transfusions can run more than $5,000.
Popeye is already feeling better. “He ate like a champ overnight. He is still not out of the woods but he is getting better by the hour,” said Dr. Storm. “He walks outside on his own, and he’s eating and drinking.”
Dr. Storm said Popeye is receiving several antibiotics and there are risks of infection as well as possible liver and kidney damage.
It’s been a rough few days for Popeye. According to Dr. Storm, the man caring for the dog planned to leave Popeye Tuesday at a no-kill shelter but there was no room for him. As they were heading back home — with the man on a bicycle and Popeye running alongside — Popeye became exhausted.
The man stopped at the To The Moon store in Wilton Manors. Surveillance video from the store shows a man carrying the dog inside. The dog laid on the floor, panting, while customers and the store owner, Antonio Dumas, gave him water and covered him with wet towels.
“It was awful,” Dumas said. “It was a horrible feeling. No one should go through that whether it be a human or an animal.”
Paramedics quickly arrived to assist the animal.
Dumas said the man who was caring for the dog was upset that the dog became ill.
“At one point, it looked like he was ready to burst into tears,” Dumas said.
Dr. Storm believes the man simply made a mistake and did not have any malicious intent. He said it is a good time to remind dog owners that heat stroke can be prevented. Dogs should only be walked or exercised during the morning or late in the day. Owners should make sure they have plenty of water handy.
If you think your dog is suffering heat stroke, cool it down gradually with a fan, and lightly apply water, the vet said. Don’t cool it off too quickly by tossing it in a pool or dousing it with a hose.
“You don’t want to cool them to fast because that can be detrimental,” said Dr. Storm. Immediately call a vet or take it to an animal hospital.
If you’d like to make a donation towards Popeye’s care, call the VCA Imperial Point Animal Hospital at (954) 771-0156. All donations go directly into Popeye’s account.
Once Popeye, who is 2 to 3 years old, is healthy enough, he’ll be put up for adoption. There’s a waiting list at the vet’s office with plenty of names already on it.