Please help us help a dog.
August 26, 2009 2:14 PM   Subscribe

A question about a dog. (posting for a friend)

My sister is the proud owner of a purebred Newfoundland dog. The dog is now a year old, and has had all its vaccinations, shots, etc. He is walked, brushed, well-cared for, etc. My sister is beginning student teaching, and is recently unemployed.

It turns out that the dog, which she cares for deeply, has a serious hip problem. Dysplasia. His hip bone, basically, doesn't fit in the socket. He's gone lame and is in a lot of pain. The surgery and therapy are expected to cost roughly 10,000 dollars. She does not have this kind of money, and with her student loans, won't for a long time.

The less sensitive members of my family have proposed that this presents an opportunity to put the dog down, since though the dog is very well-behaved, most other members of the family have no love for this pony-sized fluffy monster. For obvious reasons, my sister and I would like to avoid this. Does anyone know of any solutions? A rescue service, a way to fundraise for pets, something?
posted by prefpara to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Poor sister and poor pup!

You might try contacting Newfoundland rescue groups, like this one and this one.

One of the websites says they have a wait list of people waiting to adopt a rescued Newfoundland.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about these organizations other than what they say about themselves on their websites.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:19 PM on August 26, 2009

The breeder may have some insight into local rescue resources. I know that if I had a purebred Newf that was suffering dysplasia at only 1 year old, I'd be wanting to talk to them anyway.
posted by jquinby at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you talked to the breeder? If they are any kind of responsible breeder, this needs to be brought to their attention. If they're not willing to take the dog back, chip in or help in some other way, they should at least be able to recommend a legitimate course of action. (As an aside, this is the kind of problem that mutts tend not to have.)

I understand your questioning other family members' motives, but sometimes, there is no other option. Good luck.
posted by sageleaf at 2:24 PM on August 26, 2009

Has your sister looked into pet health insurance? Here are two providers: Veterinary Pet Insurance and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. There's also Credit Care which is a credit card specifically for medical, dental and vet bills. She could also try speaking with the vet and negotiating a reduced rate and/or payment plan.
posted by tinatiga at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2009

Yeah, the breeder absolutely needs to know; they must be made aware that there's dysplasia in the bloodline. If they already knew, well...
posted by mr_roboto at 2:30 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, there is no pet insurance that accepts for pre-existing conditions so that's out. Rescues are probably your friend's best bet as others have said. They tend to have a lot of contacts in the community and will be able to give suggestions.
posted by Kimberly at 2:45 PM on August 26, 2009

Could your friend possibly afford a payment plan for the surgery?

Yes, there are definitely fundraising efforts. I know of several that raise funds for cats and have helped fund some surgeries myself. We hold raffles, etc. in the cat blogosphere. If the dog community is half as active, you might get help that way, so check out the google search I linked to.
posted by misha at 2:55 PM on August 26, 2009

Shop around. I know that sounds crass but different vet clinics can charge drastically different amounts for various proceedures. If she's in a big city, she may also want to call around to smaller towns if any are within realistic driving range, vet costs at a large city are often drastically higher than smaller towns or rural areas.

Also, how much can she do on her own? Therapy can be quite expensive, but if she's home she may be able to take on those duties (including walking the dog supporting its backend with a towel). I can't imagine it would be an easy task with a newfie, but it might be worth finding out if any of it she can do herself with the guidence of a vet.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:00 PM on August 26, 2009

Your sister should contact veterinary schools in her area; they may be willing to treat the dog for free or at a discount it the surgery presents a teaching opportunity for the students.
posted by kitty teeth at 3:27 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Seconding the "shop around" for different vet options. There's a vet in the town where my parents live who works with both large animals (livestock) and pets. Everything through this vet is easily 1/3 the cost of my pet veterinarian in a larger city. Check smaller towns. Check vets who work with livestock as well as pets. Costs can be very different.
posted by mjcon at 4:16 PM on August 26, 2009

There are vet clinics that can arrange for payments instead of lump sums. Perhaps she could talk with the vet about how much she could afford each month. Also, get a second opinion and talk about what steps are necessary and what are options that could be cut to save costs.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:46 PM on August 26, 2009

If shopping around and payment plans won't work out it couldn't hurt to call your humane society and see if there's anything they can do to help. They might offer low cost veterinary care, or they might know where to get it.

I know that my local humane society has, on occasion, rescued and treated animals that need expensive treatment that the pet's owner couldn't afford. The dog has to be put up for adoption though, they don't let people keep pets that they treat for free.
posted by Kicky at 7:54 PM on August 26, 2009

Perhaps there are non-surgical options? My chow/golden mix had a torn ACL two years ago and the vet said the ONLY option was surgery ($2K+). She said if he didn't have the surgery SOON, arthritis was sure to set in and the prognosis would be bleak. Additionally, we were told there was a 50% chance he'd tear the other ACL within a couple years. This was from a very reputable vet.

My dog was almost 10 at the time and the thought of putting him through two surgeries plus rehab (not to mention the $$) was daunting. After doing some research I found that ACL tears can be treated conservatively without surgery, although most vets will NOT tell you this. To be fair, some are probably just not trained this way in vet school and are not aware of the potential for success. Those who are aware of it may be skeptical that owners would be able to follow through with the demands of managing the condition conservatively.

The treatment included severely limiting our dog's activity, no running, no stairs, no jumping, very little walking, supplements, and gradually increasing activity as the condition improved. Two years later our 100 lbs. fluff ball is in perfect condition. Not even a tiny limp - he tears around the yard chasing the neighbor's cat, runs down the driveway to "greet" the UPS man.

Perhaps there are some non-surgical options available for hip dysplasia? I know there is a very active Yahoo group, OrthoDogs, dedicated to support to canine orthopedic problems. It would at least be worth a try to ask about it there. The Conservative Management (CM) group for ACL injuries was extremely helpful and encouraging through our dog's injury.

I did a quick google search for 'hip dysplasia conservative management' and a few articles came up, in particular, a few for juvenile dogs.

I hope you can come up with a solution. Newfoundlands are gorgeous pups!
posted by caroljean63 at 10:20 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

First contact the breeder, the contract should have outlined the breeder's responsibility as regards genetic diseases (you DO have a contract, right?), a breeder can't guarantee no problems, but should take some responsibility (they won't pay ten grand, but most ethical breeders will do something). There are medical and management options to keep the dog comfortable for as long as possible (keeping the dog VERY lean and muscular, physical rehab, joint supplements, especially Adequan, and NSAIDS, to mention a few).
posted by biscotti at 10:41 PM on August 26, 2009

I remember reading an article years ago (in Field and Stream, I believe) about treating hip dysplasia with Vitamin C. I don't have time to try hunting down the article, but a quick google of "hip dysplasia vitamin C" turned up what looks like lots of promising information.

Good luck, and my best wishes go out to your sister and the Newfy!
posted by DrGail at 6:33 AM on August 27, 2009

(As an aside, this is the kind of problem that mutts tend not to have.)

This is completely wrong. Mixes have just as many health problems as purebreds, especially hip and elbow dysplasia but also epilepsy, cancers, allergies and skin issues.
posted by acorncup at 5:40 AM on September 17, 2009

« Older Buying a house with 5% down: FHA vs. Conventional...   |   How to be a membership chair? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.