Washington veterinarian Dr. Dana Bridges Westerman is a fighter: she has helped thousands of animals in Washington state and beyond and she's currently battling cancer herself. But in December of 2012, Dr. Dana, as she's affectionately called by her clients, had to fight for her stolen dog, as well.
Dr. Dana, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2012, received her German Shepherd puppy, Escher, as a gift to help her cope with her cancer diagnosis and treatment. In December, Dr. Dana's twelve-week-old German Shepherd puppy went missing from her Monroe, Wash. home. As days turned to weeks and then to months, two probable outcomes unfolded: little Escher had perished, or someone had him and didn't intend to return him.
Dr. Dana didn't know if she'd ever see her stolen dog again - not until a fateful phone call that she received this August.
"I received a phone call from the Avid microchip people – they said, 'Someone in Carnation has your dog!' I couldn't believe it!" she recalled.
Dr. Dana had never given up on finding Escher, who is now one year of age, but the young dog was still in the fight of his life, even after he returned home.
"We got him on a Sunday and he was really sick," Dr. Dana recalled. "We think that he had been dumped in the park where he was found by the person who stole him. When he came home, I dewormed him and noticed that he had diarrhea. Tuesday, his diarrhea turned bloody and I started him on antibiotics. On Wednesday, he still wasn't feeling good. I took him in to my small animal vet friend, as I typically work with horses. They ran a parvo titer and changed his antibiotics."
But by Thursday, Escher couldn’t even stand.
When a radiologist in Kirkland recommended that Escher needed immediate surgery, Dr. Dana rushed him to Mountain View in Snohomish. It turned out that the young dog had a condition called intussusception.
"The intestine had started to telescope back onto itself and started to digest itself. He couldn’t digest anything - he had a severe intestinal blockage. The doctor had to take out three feet of intestine from him," Dr. Dana explained.
This was the most intestine that the veterinarian had ever had to remove - and it wasn't clear if Escher would survive the surgery. Dr. Dana slept on the floor with her dog for five nights, attending to his every need. And on the fifth day, the young dog began to perk up.
"He’s going to have diarrhea the rest of his life, but he’s happy. If we hadn't gotten that phone call on that Sunday, he would have died. It was just amazing. God worked in an amazing way to bring my dog back to me."
Dr. Dana and Escher will continue to provide love and support to one another - showing the world that they're both fighters - and that neither of them gave up on each other.
Dr. Dana also plans to continue to help animals in Washington state and beyond, including providing national and international veterinary support.
"I volunteered with Hurricane Katrina with Pasado’s Safe Haven and felt that I needed to continue to give back," Dr. Dana stated.
"So I started volunteering with World Vets. I went to Nicaragua in May and helped 326 horses." Dr. Dana plans to continue to travel with World Vets, helping where she is most needed.
Dr. Dana's choice to microchip her young German Shepherd is a reminder for pet owners everywhere. Escher's microchip most likely saved his life. With stolen dog reports increasing in frequency, microhipping your pets can help ensure that they return home safely. Facebook pages like Help FIND Nahla are a wonderful resource for those whose pets are missing.
"When he went missing, we were knocking on doors all over the neighborhood. I was out for hours. I couldn’t sleep," Dr. Dana recalled. "He hadn’t finished his puppy shots and I was really worried that he’d get sick."
Congratulations, Dr. Dana and Escher, on your reunion - and for providing hope to others whose pets are still missing!
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