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UPDATE 5/4/2016
We are deeply saddened to report that Barkley passed away on Saturday evening, April 30th, due to complications from his second heart surgery.

In late February, immediately after Barkley arrived from Tennessee, our doctors diagnosed a complex cardiac condition they hoped could be addressed with one delicate surgery. However, Barkley’s condition quickly worsened. After consultation with cardiologists, our medical team decided to approach his two conditions — pulmonic stenosis and dysfunction of the vena cava — with separate procedures to minimize the stress on Barkley’s system.

Barkley did very well following his first surgery on March 3, which dealt with his pulmonic stenosis, and we were all quite hopeful. His cardiologist, Dr. Donald Schrope, DVM of Cardiology, at Oradell Animal Hospital, in Paramus, N.J., scheduled the second surgery for the end of April to give Barkley time to rest and recuperate. His New Jersey doctors graciously insisted that he remain with them to avoid the discomfort of moving back and forth.

On April 30, Barkley underwent this second surgery and seemed to be doing well. But while in recovery, he suffered cardiac arrest and died, despite several desperate attempts to resuscitate him.

In the midst of this terrible turn of events, we take comfort in remembering that this sweet Black Labrador Mutt-i-gree felt loved by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him, including his cardiologist, Dr. Schrope, who called him “a very special dog.” Indeed, we extend our thanks to everyone on Barkley’s Oradell team who were dedicated to this “very special dog” and came to love him.

We also want to thank you, our loyal Help Me Heal supporters, for enabling us to give Barkley a chance to become whole and healthy. Everything we did for Barkley was because of you. Your kind words and heartfelt prayers throughout Barkley’s time in our Help Me Heal Program were meaningful to all of us, and we know beyond a doubt that your compassion and support brought him love and comfort along the way.

UPDATE 4/4/2016
Barkley has been doing very well at the Oradell Animal Hospital, as he continues to recuperate from his first surgery last month. He's impressed much of the staff with his strength and resiliency, and even wrapped his doctor around his big paw. Dr. Donald Schrope, DVM of Cardiology, provides periodic updates on Barkley's condition and each one clearly conveys a strong fondness for this sweet Lab mix. Dr. Schrope even insisted that Barkley remain at the hospital while he recovers, in an effort to avoid the discomfort Barkley would experience if he had to be transported back and forth. It's a pleasure to know that our boy is in such compassionate hands.

Barkley is doing so well that Dr. Schrope has determined he is ready for his second surgery, which will redirect the vena cava to empty the deoxygenated blood correctly. This will be scheduled later this month giving Barkley a little more time to rest, and the best possible chance for a successful outcome.

Our Help Me Heal Program continues to allow Barkley to receive the highest quality care that this sweet dog deserves. Thank you for your continued support of this vital program.

UPDATE 3/3/2016
We are happy to report that Barkley made it through his first surgery and doctors are very optimistic about his recovery. According to Dr. Donald Schrope, DVM Cardiology at Oradell Animal Hospital, "He is a strong dog. He did remarkably well considering the amount of cardiac manipulation and surgery. We are not out of danger yet as he is still recovering and serious complications are possible over the next few days."

We need your continued thoughts and prayers for Barkley during this time. Dr. Schrope says, "The tentative plan is to recover him then consider the other surgery (redirecting the cava) in the next couple of weeks. Yes I am on the verge of tears- this dog is amazing!!!"

UPDATE 2/26/2016
Doctor's feel that Barkley's pulmonic stenosis has progressed to the point that it must be addressed first, and that the dual surgery would not be in his best interest at this time. Therefore, Barkley will be heading to New Jersey on Monday to prepare for his first surgery. He'll be transported via AmbuVet, specialized van that has an oxygen cage in it so that Barkley can be transported more safely. Barkley will meet again with the cardiologist and have his first surgery on Thursday. Our hearts go with this sweet pup as we await word of his prognosis.

As he was guided down the narrow hallway that led from the surgical ward to the Emergency Care Unit inside the walls of North Shore Animal League America’s Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center, it was apparent Barkley was ailing. The distance between the two areas are a mere 20 feet apart, but even a leisurely walk of such small proportions put a severe strain on the heart and the lungs of the stunning 7-month-old black Labrador mix.

When Barkley arrived at our Port Washington, N.Y. campus off of a rescue transport from Tennessee, he looked like the picture of perfection – stunning black coat, dark, piercing eyes, and a strong posture that makes him look like a stately canine gentleman. It wasn’t until an extensive examination that our veterinarians discovered two major concerns with the pup’s heart, which had everyone in the medical center quite concerned.

“During Barkley’s initial evaluation we immediately heard a significant problem with his heart,” said Animal League America Senior Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff, Mark Verdino. “He’s since had some evaluations by a cardiologist and it turns out he has a very complex defect. He has pulmonic stenosis, which means the pulmonary artery that goes to the lungs is narrower than it should be, so not enough blood is getting to his lungs.”

Doctor Verdino said that on top of the pulmonic stenosis, the young dog also has an anomaly with one of the major veins to the heart called the vena cava. This vein carries blood from other veins to the right atrium of the heart and is a vital part in the workings of the blood circulatory system.

“In this case, the vena cava is actually emptying the deoxygenated blood into the wrong side of his heart, causing it to mix with the oxygenated blood,” Dr. Verdino continued. “This means that with every pump of his heart, only about 40 percent of it has oxygen. With any activity his gums turn blue, he gets very winded, and has even passed out when he’s gotten really worked up and excited.”

As a member of Animal League America’s one-of-a-kind Help Me Heal Program, Barkley will be provided with top-notch medical care from only the best doctors and surgeons. Treating this poor pup begins with the cardiologist who diagnosed him. That doctor will be consulting with a human cardiovascular surgeon in New Jersey, and the two specialists hope to fix both problems with a single surgical procedure. Although the surgeries are very complex and carry a high risk, the specialists feel that because of Barkley’s strong build and otherwise good health, he’s way ahead of the game.

“Other than the issues with his heart he’s a very happy, healthy guy. He wants to run and play, but unfortunately right now he just can’t,” Dr. Verdino said. “Hopefully the surgeries will be a success and he’ll make a great pet for someone real soon.”

Will you help provide Barkley with a chance to be the vibrant, energetic dog he so desperately wants to be?

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