Luna, a senior Beagle, age ten, with big, beautiful eyes and long, drooping ears, was not doing well when her guardian, James, brought her to an emergency clinic in St. George late one January night. She was lethargic and had stopped eating. She also had a distended abdomen and appeared to be in pain.
While at the ER, Luna was diagnosed with pyometra, a life-threatening disease resulting from hormonal changes in the female’s reproductive tract. The best and only prevention for pyometra is to have your dog spayed, which Luna was not. James was concerned for his beloved dog and over the cost of the surgery she needed to save her life. As a veteran living on a fixed income, he couldn’t afford it, and he’d already spent hundreds of dollars at the emergency clinic.
Luna’s second chance
Upon hearing James’ concerns, the ER staff contacted the Humane Society of Utah’s St. George Clinic to see if we could help. After discussing the situation with James and realizing he would do anything he could to care for Luna, Dr. Gray, our compassionate veterinarian, offered to provide the surgery through our Pet Retention Program at an affordable price.
Regarding her decision to help, Dr. Gray said, “Unfortunately, animals are sometimes euthanized for pyometra because their guardians cannot afford the cost of surgery. Our Pet Retention Program provides medical care and other support to guardians who have fallen on hard times or to individuals like James, who are caring veterans living on a fixed income.”
During Luna’s surgery, Dr. Gray discovered that her uterus was severely infected and filled with pus. She explained, “her uterus was one of the largest we have ever seen in a dog her size because of how pus-filled it was. Without the surgery, she would not have survived.” The surgery went well, and Luna reunited with a tearful James that same day. As he picked her up from our clinic, James expressed his sincere gratitude for our help in saving his beloved companion’s life.
While Luna’s surgery only took 30 minutes, it would take two full weeks for her to regain her energy and start eating normally again. Once she was feeling better, her sweet personality came to life, and when she walked into our clinic for a free check-up, her tail was wagging, and her eyes were bright. During the exam, Luna received lots of love and affection from our medical team, who were happy to see her doing well.
Dr. Gray shared, “We want other guardians to hear Luna’s story so they can be aware of pyometra and take preventive measures for their beloved cats and dogs by having them spayed early on in life. Pyometra is quite common but 100% preventable. One in four unspayed female dogs over ten will get pyometra, which is life-threatening and generally expensive to treat. When female dogs are spayed, pyometra is no longer a risk later in life.”
Helping dogs like Luna
HSU offers affordable spay services to ensure our community members can easily access this critical service for their pets and to prevent pyometra. But HSU understands that even a low-cost service can be unaffordable to some. Through HSU’s Pet Retention Program, our St. George Clinic has helped many members of the homeless community and those who have experienced domestic violence by waiving or reducing costs for services and providing much-needed supplies like pet food, cat litter, etc.
“We don’t want anyone to have to surrender a pet due to lack of funds,” said Dr. Gray. “It means a lot to us to be a resource to our community members in this way. We feel privileged to share our skills with individuals and families in need.”
Learn more about Pet Retention Program here.