Emergency Success Stories

Bichon Frise

"Most people recognize that we have excellent health care facilities & surgeons in the Pittsburgh area. Few people recognize that we are amazingly fortunate to have the premier "Level 1 Trauma Center" for our pets with the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Clinic!

Three times, with two of our dogs, over the years,  PVSEC literally saved their lives when they were brought to PVSEC in the middle of the night, on a holiday, for assorted medical emergencies ranging from uncontrolled seizures to massive systemic infections! The degree of professionalism, knowledge, and compassion by the staff of PVSEC exhibited during these emergencies was overwhelmingly positive, and the results allowed us to have our dogs with us for many more years! My gratitude to the PVSEC for their trauma skills cannot be fully expressed, as I thank them every day in my prayers for their presence in our community.

Over the years, I have watched dozens of cats & dogs come into their Emergency Center and are literally saved by the professionals on duty! In many cases, family members drove their pets from locations several hours away, from multiple states, on the recommendations of their local Vets, as this was their only option for saving the life of their pet.

I have personally observed that scores of Veterinarians from numerous Vet Practices all refer their patients to the PVSEC, and I am so glad that we have them in our area as I sit here and hold my own best furry companion! THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Clinic - You Are WONDERFUL!!!"

John L. Michalec, Pittsburgh, Pa.

With PVSEC, Zeke has more than 4 lives!

Thank you for saving my dog's life three or four times. When I brought Zeke to PVSEC, I really didn't know what was wrong with him. He had been on heavy doses of prednisone for an autoimmune disease that had been diagnosed nine days before. But instead of improving, his health had steadily grown worse. His mouth had swollen so badly that there was barely room for his tongue inside. As the swelling increased, his ability to eat and drink had diminished, and he was beginning to have difficulty breathing. He was obviously in pain, and his personality had contracted to the point that Zeke wasn't really in there at all any more - he was just his body, standing with his head and tail hanging down.

Instead of waiting for another opinion, I drove him to your emergency clinic. Dr. Wooderson examined him and had the objectivity to see beyond the original diagnosis. She found an abscess in his mouth and diagnosed an infection that had become systemic. She said that he was a very sick dog and that she needed to keep him at the clinic for IV fluids and antibiotics. She said she would do her very best with him and that she would call me in the morning.

She did call. In fact, throughout his illness - the cardiac arrest, the tracheotomy, his comatose 24-hours, his pneumonia, and all the rest, we were kept updated. When we worried and I called, someone always told me how he was doing. The doctors and staff leveled with me - he was a very sick dog, and there were never any guarantees - but there was always an objective assessment of his condition, a clear explanation of the hurdle we were trying to overcome and hope. Everyone was pulling for Zeke; that was clear to me, and it helped.

I was given the same consideration when I visited Zeke. I was welcomed and a place was made for me to be with him, in his crate in the beginning and then in the examining rooms, with a blanket or something for him to lie on. What a sweet dog I have. My heart really went out to him; the poor guy was so sick and still struggling to get better. I sat on the floor and talked to him and sang him lullabies and petted him and held him on my lap, doing my best to keep all his tubes from tangling up. The opening in his neck repulsed me, yet I marveled that it was keeping him alive.

Of course I love my dog. I've raised him from a pup and shown him - he's a champion, and he's sired two litters. Two of his kids are now champions. And I've taken him to innumerable obedience classes. He jumps on my bed every night with his toy and we play fetch. But when he was so very sick I learned how much I really do love him. Every time I opened a door to go outside, I automatically looked for him to be with me. At odd times I'd think, "Oh, yeah, I have to let Zeke out." I'd remember to feed him at night, and then of course he wasn't there. He's really a part of me.

It was so comforting to have him in your clinic. I knew that he was receiving excellent care - really, everything was being done that could be done, which turned out to be a lot. And you all were pulling for him. I know we all felt pretty good when he kept improving day by day, and I know I felt absolutely wonderful when he could finally breathe on his own and you took him off the critical list.

I went home with a very carefully prepared bill - Jane, the receptionist, reviewed it for more than an hour to be sure it was correct, which I appreciated. And I also went home with specifically written directions on how to continue Zeke's treatment - so specific that I made myself a four-page spreadsheet to be sure I didn't skip a medication. But you were still available for questions, and I very much appreciate your coordination of treatment with my vet.

Tomorrow I will give Zeke the last half-dose of prednisone. He has regained most of his energy now and we're going on medium-length walks. He began his customary monitoring of the neighborhood from the living room windows about ten days ago, so I'm aware again of when the mailman comes and of whenever the neighbors come and go, not to mention the FedEx man. Also, his tracheotomy has closed up, so I've finally bathed and groomed him. He has lost a lot of his coat, and I must say it's tough to make him look as good as normal when he has bare, shaven legs. Nevertheless, he's pretty much back to normal and best of all is entirely Zeke again. Thank you very much.

Sassafrass in Diabetic Crisis
House Cat

She was a little abandoned cat that my friend found in a deserted barn. The unforgiving environment had resulted in a very sickly and undernourished animal. My friend started to feed her and watched as her coat grew glossy and her body became healthy. She named her Autumn because her fur glowed with the richness of fall colors. Since she couldn't take on the responsibility of another animal, she asked if I would consider adopting her. When my friend brought her to my home, we discovered she had a huge gash down to the muscle tissue on her hind leg. By the time her first night with me was over, Autumn had experienced a painful visit to my vet and was not dealing well with wearing a collar. Despite this frightening transition, she was friendly, trusting and spunky. So I renamed her Sassafrass; Sassy for short.

Sassy was with me for two glorious months of healing and growing when she started to show signs of another illness. Her symptoms became so serious that she was admitted to PVSEC in its opening week. Dr. Loose diagnosed her with severe symptoms of an animal in diabetic crisis. Sassy was put in the critical care ward and continued to stay there under the wonderful care of Dr. Rexford and Dr. Loose. Sassy was under constant medical attention for about a week while her doctors researched possible solutions to her ongoing medical issues. They also conferred with Dr. Lurye for her experienced advice in internal medicine.

For two more weeks, the doctors helped Sassy fight for her survival. Gradually her symptoms lessened and her medical issues seemed under control. But when all of a sudden her red blood cell count dropped alarmingly low it looked as if this last hurdle would be the one her doctors could not help her over. After weeks of testing, food tubes, central lines and a transfusion, it appeared we would lose the battle. Then one dreary morning, Dr. Rexford called and said that amazingly, Sassy's red blood cell count had simply started to improve. From that point on, every day showed signs of restoration and healing. After five more weeks of care, Sassy came home again. At the onset of her illness she was 11.5 pounds. She dropped to six pounds during her illness and has since returned to normal weight. She is finally living up to her name!

I truly believe Sassy was meant to find my friend's barn and end up in my care. PVSEC provided the absolute finest veterinary treatment and continuous medical attention for my pet. The treatment by the staff at PVSEC was exceptional. I was consistently educated and updated about her condition through compassionate conversations with her doctors. Sassy remains a diabetic cat and is being treated by Dr. Lurye in internal medicine. But today she is loving life as a healthy, exuberant one-and-a-half year old cat. Sassy and I are forever grateful that her doctors persevered when there was little hope.