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Sue Baur – Dixon

Sue Baur – Dixon

Our 42-year-old daughter has had four rounds of chemotherapy in the past year and a half for a red blood cell disorder and she faces a future with more such treatments likely periodically. In May of last year, her three-year-old dog, Dixon, needed surgery on his hind leg for a torn ACL. Our daughter and Dixon live in the middle of a very large city, which would make recovery from such an operation difficult. We live in a place where he can go outside to a nice lawn by just walking out the front door, rather than having to make his way there from a 4th story apartment inside a city apartment building–and having nothing but sidewalks available once he got there.

We agreed to have him come and have his operation here and live with us for an extended period of time while he recuperated. We expected to return him to our daughter sometime last August. However, during July, the operation site became infected, and the infection continued to just hang on throughout the next couple of months, despite his being treated with several rounds of antibiotics. We continued to keep Dixon with us, not wanting to return a sick dog to our daughter. Then, in mid-September, a new veterinarian saw Dixon, and right away she said we should have her remove the sutures from the original operation and culture the infection site; that there was some possibility that it would be MRSA. The culture came back positive for MRSA, but fortunately it was a type that was shown to respond well to clindamyacin, which he took for 30 days. Dixon seemed to have gotten rid of the infection, but we had by then read a lot of material about the seriousness of MRSA and the possibility that dogs and people could be MRSA carriers without having symptoms of the disease themselves.

Although our new vet had enough knowledge about MRSA to know to test for it, she, nor the large veterinarian clinic where she is employed, were able to advise us as to whether or not Dixon was now completely MRSA-free and whether or not it would be safe to return him to our daughter, whose immune system has been compromised by chemotherapy. We looked on the internet and found many sites that told us how necessary it was to practice cleanliness, etc., to prevent the spread of MRSA, but we just couldn’t seem to find out whether anyone thought it was advisable for Dixon to rejoin his mistress. In the meantime, the ACL on Dixon’s other leg became torn, and we were referred to a specialist in a near-by city for an evaluation. We told the specialist about Dixon’s recent recovery from MRSA, and she told us that they would see Dixon, but only by keeping him completely isolated from all the other animals there. When we got there, three staff members who were all suited up in protective clothing, gloves and masks came to evaluate him, outside the back door. We did discuss MRSA with this specialist, as well as Dixon’s need for a second ACL operation. This specialist also was unable to tell us if there was any way to find out if Dixon was really cured from the MRSA and safe to be with our daughter. After that experience and all the reading we had done, we were pretty frightened into deciding that this dog did not belong with our daughter. We then contemplated the dismal alternatives, since we were unable to keep Dixon ourselves for a period of several years. We wondered if it would be possible to find a new owner willing to take him on, but somehow, that didn’t seem to be a very promising prospect, since he now has had MRSA and two bad rear legs.

Finally, in a follow-up phone conversation with the specialist we had seen, she mentioned that another of her customers had come in with a “MRSA dog” that week, and they told her about the Bella Moss Foundation. I visited the web site and was truly impressed with the information and credentials I found there. It was with great excitement that I wrote an e-mail requesting information about whether it would be safe to return Dixon to his owner, and it was with even greater excitement that I read Jill’s almost immediate response, telling me that if his wound was indeed well-healed and if swabs taken from his nostril and anus tested to rule out his being a carrier, that we could consider it safe for our daughter to have her dog back. This was the first and only resource that we had found where someone seemed to know the answers to our questions.

Then, when we went to our local vet to get the cultures done, she was uncertain about exactly how to conduct the test (should there be separate cultures from the two areas, or just one swab from the two areas combined?). Once again, I wrote back to Jill, and she then gave us the names of some vets in the United States that would be willing to consult with my vet. What a wonderful resource!! My local vet did call and get advice from one of the references, and was able to proceed with the testing, which came back negative. Based on all the good and reliable information we got from Bella Moss Foundation, we then felt confident in our decision to have the second torn ACL repaired, still keeping Dixon with us during a second extended recuperation period. Now it has been seven weeks since his surgery, and he has no sign of any infection and is healing well. We will take him back to his rightful owner this weekend, feeling confident that we are doing the right thing for both our daughter and Dixon. Thank you Jill so much for providing us and our vets with the information we needed to make a sensible, well-informed decision about this matter.

 

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