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By VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital
Published: March 27, 2014


VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue, donors and more, instrumental in community effort to rescue abused dogs from a bullet-casing-surrounded crate found miles from civilization

LOS ANGELES, CA�"Saving the lives of dogs in need is simply a day in the life for the folks at Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue (MMDR), based out of Kern County, CA. Late last year, an animal control officer in Kern County, California notified the organization that a crate containing 3 dogs had been found by hikers in the middle of nowhere. Two of the canines were battered, starved, dehydrated and frightened, but alive, while the third was deceased and frozen solid, as a result of the 15 degree temperatures the dogs were abandoned in. After being taken to the Lake Isabella Animal Shelter, the animals were retrieved by MMDR and taken to an animal hospital for examination.

Despite the bullet casings laying near the cage the dogs were found in, initial examination cleared the animals to go home to new owners. However, one of the rescued �" a friendly pup named Shadow �" began coughing up blood a couple of months after she was adopted. Her frightened new owners took her to the hospital for further x-rays which revealed the worst had happened - that Shadow had been living with a bullet lodged in her lung.

The complicated surgery required was not one that many animal hospitals are equipped to handle, which left Shadow with very few options. She was flown to the Agua Dulce Airport, at which point she was driven as quickly as the law would allow to the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital facility.

An emergency CT scan was performed showing the location of the bullet and the extent of the injuries. After Shadow was stabilized, surgery was performed on Sunday February 16th by one of VCA WLA’s veterinary specialists, Dr. Sady Cabrera, DVM, DACVS. During the intense 6 hour long surgery, a .40 caliber slug was removed from her chest, along with one of the lobes of her lung that was most compromised by the bullet.

“This was a particularly complex surgery because the bullet had lodged near the heart. Scar tissue had adhered to the pericardium and several large vessels so the surgery had to be very meticulous,” explained VCA surgeon Dr. Sady Cabrera, who performed the surgery. “Shadow is a fighter and deserves a major share of the credit for her own survival by being strong and having the will to live. We’re incredibly pleased and inspired by how quickly she’s bouncing back.”

The team of animal medical experts at the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital facility is one of the finest teams in the country when it comes to complex, life-threatening surgeries, and it was fortunate that they were able to accommodate Shadow in her time of need. Given the circumstances, the hospital made their team and their expertise available at a moment’s notice to tackle this challenging operation, and helped underwrite the open-chest procedure. Donors are continuing to contribute the remaining funds needed to make Shadow’s life-saving operation possible. All parties interested in donating to Shadow’s cause are encouraged to follow Shadow’s recovery on the Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue Facebook page to see how they can contribute. The surgery has been deemed a success, and Shadow was able to return home on Wednesday, February 19th. She is expected to make a full recovery.

About VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital
Established in 1984, VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital is one of the largest veterinary hospitals in the country in addition to being the first specialty and referral hospital in Los Angeles. Serving Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, Orange and Ventura counties and the surrounding communities, the facility provides 24/7/365 emergency and critical care services and offers a full complement of specialty services in virtually all areas of veterinary medical specialties. Recently relocated to a 42,000 sq. ft. facility, the hospital is equipped with the most advanced technology to ensure optimal care for its patients. The hospital is actively engaged in veterinary medical research through participation in clinical trials and in education and outreach within the veterinary community through its intern and continuing education programs. VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, located at 1900 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025, can be reached at (310) 473-2951,