Every pet parent’s worst nightmare recently occurred in Brooklyn, New York. Benji, a sweet Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie) escaped his home and ran helplessly through the city streets. He fought for his life with each step of the journey.
One can hardly imagine the terror and fear that ran through tiny Benji’s body as he evaded cars, loud sounds, and busy people. His owners looked everywhere for the little guy, and finally, after three hours or searching, they found him.
Sadly, someone stabbed Benji and left him to die on the cold New York streets. His owners wrapped him with a temporary bandage and rushed him to Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group (VERG) in Brooklyn, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A Life-Saving Veterinary Team
As a military veterinarian in the US ARMY reserves, Dr. Matthew Morgan, chief of surgery, was on call when Benji came in.
“I train for these types of injuries on the battlefield but never expected to be seeing an injury of this nature in Brooklyn,” Dr. Morgan shared. “He was very lucky to be brought to us in time for us to stabilize him and stop the bleeding.”
Dr. Morgan and his team assessed the damage and determined the dog needed immediate surgery. Stopping the bleeding became mandatory before Benji could be placed under anesthesia. They did this with the use of Vetigel, a gel-based hemostatic that stops bleeding. VERG Brooklyn is one of the first hospitals in the United States to use the new product.
“Since this is so new, many veterinarians have never heard of it,” said Dr. Morgan. “VERG is one of the hospitals to trial the product after approval.”
The Vetigel product stops internal and external bleeding by clotting the blood. Wounds begin healing within minutes. With Vetigel applied to the wound, Dr. Morgan and his team began attempts to save Benji’s life.
A sharp, full-thickness penetrating stab wound between his 12th and 13th rib extended into Benji’s chest cavity, narrowly missing his lungs and heart. The surgical team could see the dog’s lungs exposed between the ribs.
Diagnosed as a pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, the situation became near-fatal very quickly. Fortunately, Benji survived the harrowing ordeal.
Dr. Morgan and his team were able to discharge Benji back to the owners about 12 hours after his surgery.
Advice for Pet Parents
The city streets are dangerous for pets, so Dr. Morgan reminds all pet parents to microchip their dogs and to have their dogs wear collars at all times.
“Pets that escape, especially in a city as large as New York, are in immediate danger,” Dr. Morgan stated. “This is why it’s so important to have your pet microchipped so that it can be returned to you if it ends up in a shelter or in the possession of Animal Control. Pet owners with animals that are prone to escape also might consider using a collar with a GPS tracker, so they can know the animal’s location in real time.”
Although the exact circumstances of the stabbing are unclear, a suspect has yet to be identified. Fortunately, VERG obtained a grant for Benji’s care through a rescue organization called Positive Tails that helps with the financial burden for life-threatening injuries.
“This allowed us to proceed without any interruption to his care,” Dr. Morgan said.