Intern Saves Dog’s Life: Quick-Thinking Vet’s Assistant Saves Pet Moments Before Being Put Down

A veterinary intern saved a dog’s life moments before the beloved family pet was to be put to sleep, after she just happened to notice a tick that turned out to be the cause of the dog’s rapidly deteriorating health, KTRK (Houston) is reporting.

Ten-year-old Ollie, a Sheltie, went with his family on a trip to eastern Oregon. When the family returned to Portland, however, Ollie’s health went downhill in a hurry. The once-vibrant dog was suddenly lethargic. He had no appetite. As his mystery illness progressed, he couldn’t relieve himself and could barely move.

His owners, Al and Joelle Meteney, took him to DoveLewis Animal Hospital in Portland.

There, according to a press release from DoveLewis, veterinarians ran a full battery of tests, but were unable to find anything that could pinpoint the cause of Ollie’s illness.

“Al and Joelle didn’t wait long before taking Ollie to their regular veterinarian, who conducted a full range of tests, including blood work, a urinalysis, and a variety of X-rays. But they simply couldn’t find a reason for Ollie’s diminishing health. He was given medication that could potentially help, but Ollie only got worse the next day.”

Eventually, Ollie’s family made the difficult decision to have their beloved dog put down. Dr. Adam Stone was put in charge of caring for Ollie in his final moments.

Neena Golden, a veterinary intern, was helping Dr. Stone with the procedure. As she went to comfort the sick dog, petting him behind his ears, she noticed a lump. That lump turned out to be a tick; even though Ollie wore a flea and tick collar, the parasite had still managed to bite into Ollie’s skin.

As it turns out, that tick was the source of Ollie’s mystery illness.

Ollie had come down with “Tick Paralysis,” a rare condition in which toxins in saliva from the tick gets into the dog’s bloodstream and eventually attack the animal’s nervous system. This essentially paralyzes the animal; he or she will be unable to eat, walk, or relieve himself or herself and, if untreated, will eventually die.

Tick Paralysis is so rare that it’s barely even mentioned in veterinary school, as Dr. Stone explains.

“I had never seen a tick paralysis case. It’s one of those things you learn about randomly in school – it’s on one slide during one presentation.”

The good thing about Tick Paralysis is that, once the offending tick is removed, the dog should be back to his or her old self within a few days.

Vets at DoveLewis removed the offending tick and, to be sure, shaved the rest of Ollie’s fur to make sure there were no other ticks (there weren’t), and then sent him home.

A mere 10 hours after barely escaping euthanasia, Ollie was showing signs of being on the mend. He started walking around the house, and made it to the door to signal for a bathroom break.

When Al and Joelle notified the veterinary staff of Ollie’s turnaround, they were overjoyed.

“When we got the call from his owners that Ollie was doing fine, we all high-fived each other. That might be the one tick paralysis case I experience in my career. It was exciting that we could help.”

Now Ollie is home and is 100 percent cured, thanks to the quick-thinking intern. His owners have found to make sure he wears a tick collar and takes oral anti-tick medication the next time he goes out with his family.

[Image via Shutterstock/WilleeCole Photography]