Vet improvises to save dogs life
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:26 AM
MARYSVILLE Hershey, a 103-pound chocolate Labrador, had already gobbled up two rubber balls the size of tennis balls when trouble began Thursday morning at A Bark Above dog daycare in Marysville.
At 6:13 a.m., with two balls in his mouth, Hershey went for a third and in doing so, pushed one of the first balls to the back of his throat where it got stuck. His airway was partially blocked and he was scared. A Bark Above employee Vanessa Clemente tried to grab the ball but Hershey, nervous and scared, snapped at her. He snapped again when his owner, Terry Gano, tried to get the ball out. Clemente called store owner Cassie Erickson who rushed over and saw that the ball had slid even further down the dogs throat, continuing to block his air passage. Erickson called local veterinarian Art Hoffman of Cascade Veterinary Center.
I told him that we had a dog with a rubber ball down his throat and we couldnt get it out, she said. He told me to keep him calm.
Hoffman, who lives in Arlington, arrived just before 7 a.m. and advised the dog be sedated at Hoffmans clinic. Gano, now with her husband, drove the dog over to the clinic with Hoffman and Erickson following in their cars. In the clinic, the dog was immediately sedated and held down by Gano, Erickson and two clinic assistants while Hoffman improvised to extract the ball.
It crossed my mind that the Heimlich maneuver might have worked, but I doubted it in this case because that ball was really jammed in there like a cork in a wine bottle, Hoffman said. I really had to come up with a method on the spot. It was the worst situation of its kind Hoffman had seen in his 37 years of veterinary practice.
Hoffman would use towel clamps, scissor-like tools with pointed pincers on the end. As he reached in and pierced the ball with the first clamp, the dog, even under the sedative, thrashed and wriggled in fright. Gano, Erickson and the two Cascade assistants adjusted to hold the large Labrador down.
He was freaking, even with the sedative, because he couldnt get air, Hoffman said. Thats a pretty distressing feeling for any living being.
Hoffman then pierced the ball with the second clamp and with both clamps in, was able to pull the saliva-soaked ball out. But by then, with the lack of air and the sedative slowing his respiration and heart rate, Hershey stopped breathing and died.
Quickly, Hoffman began pumping on the dogs chest and gave him mouth-to-nose resuscitation. He finally stopped when he saw the dogs chest rising and falling. Hershey was then given extra doses of oxygen until he came to.
He was fantastic, Gano later said of Hoffman. I was thinking, what a terrific vet.
Gano, with dog saliva and urine on her work clothes went home and changed before heading to work at Comcast Digital Cable company in Everett. Hershey remained the rest of the day at Cascade for observation. This was the two-year-old dogs second emergency trip to Hoffman. When he was a pup, he developed a severe bout of kennel cough. Medicine Hoffman prescribed fixed him up.
Hoffman has given dogs mouth-to-nose resuscitation before and has used his hand many times to pull small objects out of their mouths. But Hersheys case was a surprise. He recommended that any dog toy given to a dog be bigger than the dogs mouth.