May 9, 2013

Our community is so amazing! Sam is undergoing orthopedic surgery tomorrow to plate his broken hind leg. Thanks to everyone who donated!

'Sam Wants You' to help save his leg

Written by Lee Sullivan
Thursday, 02 May 2013 07:27

Sam the dog rewards Dr. Lori Hoe during treatment at Main Street Veterinary Hospital.Courtesy Main Street Veterinary Hospital.

Last Saturday, as thousands of dogs strolled the grounds at Historic Rural Hill in Huntersville, frolicked with four-legged friends and cuddled with their caring human companions, Sam sat in a cage at a temporary foster home, movements of his newly x-rayed and freshly splinted leg restricted for his own good in an attempt to help the healing.

And now, Sam the Jack Russell Terrier is depending on the thousands of animal lovers who regularly attend numerous pet-promoting events throughout the north Mecklenburg community to help him return to a normal dog's life.

The ongoing sad saga of Sam began when Cornelius resident Kathy Stallard spotted the injured small terrier tied to the doorknob of a neighboring apartment. Stallard said she checked on the dog several times that afternoon and eventually asked the resident of the apartment about the dog.

The resident knew nothing, and Stallard decided to transport the dog to her apartment. In moving him, she noticed the red, white and blue on his color. She thought of "Uncle Sam" and, immediately, the friendly but hurting canine obtained his new monicker. After noticing scars and some other things that just didn't look right, Stallard took Sam to Main Street Veterinary Hospital in Cornelius.

There, Dr. Lori Hoe and other staff members provided a free nose-to-tail exam complete with X-rays, which showed a clear and complete break of the tibia and fibula in the right, hind leg. Hoe also noticed some dental problems and a few other issues not altogether uncommon for what she estimates to be a 10-year-old family pet.

"Overall, based on his overall condition and his friendly nature, I think Sam had been cared for," Hoe said a week after Sam's initial visit to the new veterinary facility, which opened in early April and celebrated its grand opening just last Saturday. "I like to believe that, for whatever reason, whoever was taking care of him just couldn't do it anymore and they wanted to leave him with someone who could. It's not an ideal situation, but he did end up with people who cared, and it's such a good thing because he's a very sweet dog."

Hoe and the Main Street staff provided basic treatments, tests and vaccines — only keeping track of costs on the materials used — and placed a new cast on Sam's back leg. But the next necessary procedures for Sam all carry a substantial price.

Hoe said the ideal treatment would be surgery to install a plate in Sam's leg. A somewhat less invasive process could also address the leg injury and, as the final option, the leg could be amputated. But each process comes with basic fees, ranging from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand.

"The best procedure would be to use the plate," Hoe said. "That would be in the $2,200 to $3,000 range."

She added that Sam, like many dogs have done, could get along fine if amputation proves the only affordable option, it's just not the most appealing process. For now, a local couple has volunteered to look after Sam temporarily in their home. Hoe said it's possible — although not likely — that limited movement and the new splint will initiate some healing, but she added that if no improvements are detected, a decision on his future treatment will need to be made very soon.

"If it doesn't show any signs of healing, for his sake, we'll have to do something," Hoe said. "We want to give it a little time and we'll also see if he continues to get support from the community."