Help Wanda Heal

Help Wanda Heal2019-05-22T16:50:04-04:00

Wanda has been adopted! It turns out that her fun-loving, sweet personality tugged at the heartstrings of Michael, her foster dad. “She’s pure excitement. I see her learning things and she looks to me for everything,” he said. “I have the time to put in and can help her.  She’s such fun and she helps me too.”

It all began when Michael had applied to be a foster parent. His dog, Zach — who he adopted from North Shore Animal League America in 2005 — had passed away. “When Michael came in to see me, I thought of Wanda,” said Emily DeFelice, Animal League America’s foster care manager. “As soon as he met her, I could tell he was smitten. That being said, he still had his fair share of trials and tribulations as he adjusted both to fostering and to life with a puppy—from managing car sickness to housebreaking to teaching her to walk on leash.”

While Wanda was still on our Port Washington, N.Y., campus, the staff at the Pet Health Centers had been doing range-of-motion exercises with her back legs every day. They told Michael to start exercising Wanda gradually, first with leash walks and then adding more exercise slowly.

Apparently, this did the trick, because after Wanda’s last checkup the veterinarian said that her pelvis was healing nicely and no surgery would be needed.  This was such a great outcome for her, but she will still have some limitations for life — but nothing to keep her from being a loving companion.

When Michael first took Wanda home as a foster, he discovered that she needed a lot more socialization. “It was as if Wanda had never seen a lot of cars or even leaves and grass. I sat with her outside until she got used to everything,” he remembers. “She was also nervous if there were too many people around her and even walking on a sidewalk was a new experience.” It took some time and patience to help her adjust.

Now she wants to greet everyone she meets and she wags her tail to play.  Michael feels that he never really knew his neighbors before, but they now come over to him to visit with their dogs when he is walking Wanda. Everyone in his building just loves her. Now that Michael knows that Wanda likes other dogs, he is happy that he can still foster and help more shelter dogs to find their way to happy homes of their own.

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit

Original story posted March 13, 2019.

After Being Struck by a Car, Wanda Makes Lifesaving Journey

On a cold day in February, an urgent call for help came in from an Animal League America rescue partner in Tennessee. They had a four-month-old puppy brought to them that was hit by a car. Basic x-rays showed a badly fractured pelvis and she couldn’t walk. Her injuries were more than they could handle. Would Animal League America be able to help her?

Of course our Rescue Team swung into action to make arrangements for the puppy to be picked up and brought to our Port Washington, N.Y. campus, as soon as possible. She was examined immediately by Dr. Gerard Laheney, Senior Staff Veterinarian at our Pet Health Centers, who noted that she was “dragging her hind limbs and there was a large amount of fluid and swelling of the lower lumbar area.” He could not elicit a pain reflex on either of her back legs. He immediately ordered x-rays and moved her to the Emergency Care Unit. The x-rays showed multiple fractures of the pelvis but, luckily, the lumbar spine appeared normal.

Dr. Mark Verdino, Senior Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff, was called in to review Wanda’s case. “Her x-rays show some very, very bad pelvic fractures. But the good news, as far as pelvic fractures are concerned, is that the sockets where the hips attach are fine.”  Wanda is able to walk now—even though she is a bit wobbly. Dr. Verdino consulted with orthopedic surgeons who didn’t feel that surgery should be performed since there is always a risk that it might cause nerve damage. They advised that the pelvis should be allowed to heal on its own. Since the pelvic canal was not affected, it is not interfering with Wanda’s ability to go to the bathroom.

“Wanda had a massive, massive amount of swelling over the pelvic area on her back end,” says Dr. Verdino.  “This often happens with a shearing injury when the fascia, or sheet of connective tissue, lifts up off the underlying tissue and fluid builds up in between.”  Drains were placed to get rid of the fluid and it has been greatly reduced.

Wanda is expected to make a full recovery, however, she could have future complications.  Her pelvis will never be normal—right now she is walking with her right leg tilted outward.  The left is in a more natural position.  “Wanda could have a gait abnormality for the rest of her life, but it will not necessarily affect her quality of life,” asserts Dr. Verdino.  “She won’t be an agility dog, though, or a jogger.”

The healing process for Wanda will be at least four to six weeks. After she heals, she’ll need some physical therapy because her muscles will have atrophied from lack of exercise. She will be able to benefit from hydrotherapy at the underwater treadmill in our Don and Karen LaRocca Pet Wellness Center.

Please continue to support our Help Me Heal Program, where sick and injured animals can get the vital medical care they need to lead happy, healthy, pain-free lives.