Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Joplin, Bren the Lucky Pit Bull

By Ilan Brat, Wall Street Journal

Bren, a pit bull, arrived at a clinic here on Monday bleeding from a gash on her leg and in shock. She was wet and shivering and her gums had turned pale, a sign that her body temperature was dangerously low.
Joplin's animal-control staff had found Bren, with her black-and-tan coat, buried in a pile of rubble in a residential area leveled by Sunday night's tornado. They delivered Bren to the Animal Adoption & Resource Center in Joplin.
The clinic was inundated. Even before the tornado, it was nearly at capacity, holding about 350 animals. Since Sunday night, nearly 300 more have shown up, said executive director Karen Aquino. She had to borrow space in a nearby warehouse for the incoming animals.
After animals arrive, photos and available information on the animals are posted on a website. But many of the dogs, cats and other animals will never see their owners again. About 50 animals have been claimed by their owners at the clinic since the tornado.
Bren, who clinic workers estimate is about eight years old, was lucky to have been found. "If she hadn't been found, probably in another 12 hours she would've been dead," said Jennifer Barber, veterinary staff director at the clinic.
Bren was rushed into surgery. She was sedated and placed on a heating pad to raise her body temperature. Cynthia Wiseman, veterinarian at a Springfield, Mo., veterinary hospital, and some other doctors cleaned her wounds of grass, wood splinters and gravel.
Next, Dr. Wiseman turned to the gash on Bren's leg. The muscle at the back of the leg was cut to the bone. "It was like somebody took a butcher knife to her leg and sliced" the muscles in half, Dr. Wiseman said. "I had never seen a wound like that before."
She sewed the muscles back together, inserted a plastic tube to drain the wound and stapled it closed. The surgery took about an hour.
By evening, Bren was well enough to chew a red, beef-flavored dog biscuit. Dr. Wiseman worried the pit bull wouldn't walk properly again. Clinic staffers took Bren for walks, holding a towel around her rear to support her weight.
Early Wednesday afternoon, a woman came to the clinic looking for her two pit bulls, Dr. Barber said. Dr. Barber didn't get the woman's name, but took the woman into the clinic. The woman shook with sobs when she spotted Bren, Dr. Barber said.
"When we find the owner," she said, "it's amazing."

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