Nemo’s foster family are mourning the loss of their foster Rottweiler with whom they fell deeply in love because of an amputation that was not only unnecessary, but botched. His untimely death didn’t have to happen; it shouldn’t have happened.
A series of events led up to his demise. Nemo was either born with a stump-of-a-leg, or it was cut off during his life. His “good” leg was also malformed. He never walked upright. Rather, he crawled using his stump and his elbow. As a result, a serious wound going down to the bone developed on his elbow.
Well-intentioned independent rescue advocates took him to a regular vet, who is not an orthopedic surgeon, as far as anyone knows. He said the cause of the injury on his elbow was his stump and, therefore, recommended amputating it. Nemo’s stump was amputated last Wednesday.
Not long after the surgery, Nemo’s foster mom, Elsa Acosta, noticed a pungent odor emanating from his wound. She took him back to the vet. The vet didn’t show much concern, but gave him an injection and directed the foster to make sure she gave him his medicine on time. The foster said, “I give him his medication as instructed. I never miss a dose.”
She took him home, but the odor worsened. After speaking with a member of a nonprofit organization on Monday, Acosta was directed to take Nemo immediately to their vet hospital for examination and treatment. The attending vet was obviously irritated about Nemo’s physical state, stating “Nemo started going downhill the moment his leg was amputated.” This opinion is shared by Leslie Gallagher McMahon, President of Two Hands Four Paws, who said, “Unless there is bone cancer or a nerve sheath tumor we never remove a leg. You always want to keep the stump so that we can create a prosthetic for the dog and help the dog learn how to walk normally.”
Also disconcerting were the serious infections that developed from the surgery. Examination of blood work indicated he was just going into sepsis. He was also very anemic. Had the vet who performed the amputation done a blood panel before the surgery, he would have known Nemo was not a good candidate for amputation surgery – which was unnecessary in the first place.
Nemo’s prognosis was not good. After all things considered by the board members of the organization, the foster family and those involved in his initial rescue, it was decided that relieving Nemo from the pain of extensive treatment was best, particularly when going forward would not guarantee any quality of life – and assuming he even survived the surgeries.
Those involved with Nemo’s care are thoroughly heartbroken. Their grief is deep and profound. They spent two hours loving him, talking to him soothingly and telling him he is loved. One mourner wrote on the bandage covering his good leg (which was also infected):
NEMO, WE LOVE YOU, BRAVE LIL BOY
As he was drifting off, Nemo’s foster mama held his face between her hands, kissed him on his face, looked him in the eyes, and told him over and over how much she loved him. His heart stopped. There was not a dry eye in the room. Not even the vet was immune.
RIP, sweet and gentle boy. Humans failed you for most of your life; but you were deeply loved when you left this world.