Cassie: Poster Pup for the Evils of Puppy Mills
UPDATE March 31, 2015
Last time we heard from Cassie, the lovable little Lhasa Apso, she was recovering from a surgery that resulted in the amputation of her badly mangled front left leg that was a direct result of four torturous years being held captive in a commercial breeding facility. Not only was Cassie’s extensive physical therapy and hydrotherapy quickening the healing process, it was strengthening her lower body and hind legs to prepare her for life with three legs.
Cassie recently came back to North Shore Animal League America with her foster mother, Marilyn, to show off how far she’s come. After 12 weeks of various forms of therapy, which includes mobility exercises, heat treatments, massages, and a lot of individualized TLC from Marilyn and her husband John, Cassie is well on her way to a full recovery. The tiny, white pooch has fully adjusted to getting around on three legs, so much so that she was running around the hallways of the shelter when she came in for a visit.
Marilyn said she’s also adjusting to getting around in a customized cart that acts as a rolling stabilization unit and takes some of the pressure off of her remaining front leg. She’s still learning how to make strides in her cart rather than propelling herself forward by hopping on her back legs, but just as she’s always done, Cassie has found a way to make the best out of a difficult situation.
“My husband and I are so in love with Cassie! She’s been through so much and we’ve seen her through it all since she’s been with us,” Marilyn said. “My husband always says that Cassie is such a fighter and so resilient, and it’s so true. She’s made such a big impact on both our lives the past 10 months. She’s got spirit, spunk and is a true survivor!”
UPDATE October 7, 2014
Cassie has been recuperating in her foster home and getting plenty of TLC. Her doctor's at the Animal League have determined that in order to proceed with her hip surgery she would need to strengthen her back leg, as that will be actively used during her subsequent rehab. This is no easy task since she is now a three-legged dog. Our best option is for Cassie to do some hydroptherapy to make her paddle to use the back leg. Since Cassie is so small, she will be able to do hydroptherapy at home in a water basin with her Foster Mom, Marilyn, helping her along the way. With this unstoppable team, Cassie is sure to be ready for her next surgery in no time at all. Then with the support of her Foster Mom, she'll be able to do more rehab and recuperate with more TLC.
UPDATE August 6, 2014
Cassie came in for a check-up this week. She had been recuperating from her first surgery to re-fuse the bones in her front leg, unfortunately the surgery did not work. The plate used to fuse the bones is now causing her discomfort. Cassie’s doctors have determined that it would be in her best interest to amputate the leg. This procedure should not hinder Cassie’s mobility as she has not been able to use that leg for a very long time. Once the amputation is complete Cassie will return to her foster home to rest as she awaits a decision on when the surgeries for her knee and hips will be scheduled.
During the long 1,500-mile drive from the Oklahoma puppy mill to the safety of our no-kill campus, the staff caring for the 75 dogs and puppies aboard our rescue unit decided to give their new friends names. They called one small, white Lhasa Apso Cassiopeia, after the brilliant constellation in the northern heavens. If you look into this little girl’s eyes, you can see the depth of the nighttime sky itself.
Or perhaps what you see is the depth of her suffering.
Cassie, as we call her, has endured enormous pain in her four short years at the dog factory. In fact, our medical professionals say she is one of the worst cases we’ve ever rescued from a puppy mill. Sadly, this tiny dog embodies some of the most wretched disorders that come from overbreeding and living in a small cage, year after year.
“Cassie will need several surgeries,” says Diane Johnson, our vice president of medical services. “When we first examined her after she arrived in late April, we had no idea to what extent her poor body was involved. We saw a clear deformity to her left front leg and a visible head tilt due to a chronic ear infection. But then, the list of problems kept growing. This poor dog’s condition is truly severe.”
After x-rays and an orthopedic evaluation, Cassie was found to have severe bilateral hip dysplasia and grades 2 and 4 medial patella luxation, a condition that causes the knee cap to pop out of its groove. She will require surgery for both hips and the more severe grade 4 knee.
In addition, her deformed left front leg might have to be amputated. As if all this weren’t more than enough for Cassie, she also needs surgery for bilateral inguinal hernias and dental care to address the poor condition of her teeth.
And then there are the pneumonia and the ear infection she must overcome before we can even begin to address the surgeries.
We expect Cassie will be in our Help Me Heal Program for several months. She will also require foster care to recover from her multiple surgeries. It will be a long, arduous journey for Cassie, but with your generous donations, we believe she can become healthy enough one day to find her own safe, loving home. Given all she’s gone through, she more than deserves it. And clearly, Cassie is a fighter — a brave survivor of the kind of misery that no innocent creature should ever have to undergo.
Because of your donations to our Help Me Heal Program, we can provide the sophisticated medical care that dogs like Cassie need to leave their pasts behind and look toward happy, healthy futures. Please join us as we continue our life-saving mission.