Pets & Animals

Doctors' last-minute realization kept this dog from being put down

A veterinary intern and student worked together to save the life of a fluffy sheltie after they realized he didn't need to be euthanized just moments before the procedure was to take place.

The 10-year-old pup, Ollie, was experiencing a temporary paralysis due to a paralyzing tick behind his ear, but his owner, Falline Fate Meteney, had no way of knowing that. Instead, Meteney assumed that Ollie, who could not stand, walk, or control his bladder, needed to be put to sleep. After four days of watching the dog struggle to perform basic, every day functions, he simply couldn't bear to keep Ollie alive with such poor quality of life.

Luckily, the fates intervened when Meteney dropped off the struggling animal at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

“We were at a complete loss,” one of Meteny's family members said in a release on DoveLewis' website. “What do you do in that situation? He is part of our family, and we’ve always tried to provide the best care we can for him.”

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That's when veterinary student Neena Golden and intern Dr. Adam Stone made a startling realization that would change everything. As they stroked Ollie and attempted to soothe him before the procedure, they discovered a tick just behind his ears, despite the fact that Ollie had been wearing a tick collar.

Stone was able to determine that the tick was the culprit for Ollie’s paralysis.

Courtesy DoveLewis

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"He came in on a gurney, and he wasn't in good shape at all," Golden said in a phone interview with TODAY. "I knew that tick paralysis was a thing ... we'd learned about it in our medical textbooks, and I'm still studying and Adam had just graduated, so it was all fresh in our minds. But we weren't certain. I found the tick and then Dr. Stone wisely commented that perhaps it was a case of tick paralysis.

I said, 'Could it be?' and Adam looked at me and said, 'Maybe,' and then I said, 'Nah,' and then he said, 'Nah,' and then we realized this really could be our answer."

Courtesy DoveLewis

But Golden is quick to give credit where it's due: "I'm not a doctor yet, and I know if I hadn't found the tick, this wouldn't have been discovered, but the real hero in this story is Dr. Stone, who thought about the paralysis possibility."

The next part was the hardest: Removing the tick wasn't really guaranteed to solve any problems, and it would require the animal to endure another day in its paralyzed state. The owners, however, decided to go ahead with the tick removal and wait to see if the paralysis would stop.

Luckily, it did.

"The next morning, we got a phone call from the owners saying that he was walking," said Golden. "That was really incredible. They were actually so excited that they brought him in."

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