As a veterinary technician, I was no stranger to seeing animals that were in pretty rough shape. It broke my heart to see dogs and cats that were on death’s door arrive at our clinic. Often times the rescuers were simply trying to take away the patient’s pain with humane euthanasia because they just didn’t have the resources or time to spend on an animal they took off the streets. I’m grateful for those clients who cared enough to ease the misery of these animals, but the joy was multiplied exponentially when the rescuers were able to give the gift of life and choose the more difficult road of treatment instead of the ease of euthanasia.
This is the story of a rescued pit bull that was found nearly 5 years ago. He was as close to death’s door that you can get without actually dying. She and two other dogs had been abandoned in the basement of a home in Ohio when their owner was sent to prison and no one bothered to care for his dogs. All three dogs were skin and bone, however Lucian was the worst of the three. He was a mere 33 lbs when they were rescued and was so emaciated that he was unable to stand on his own. He could not eat or drink, unlike his brother and sister who were able to be placed in foster homes. Lucian not only required veterinary care, but he had to be taken home at night by Dr. Wood from the veterinary clinic who worked with the rescue group, so he could get continued care after hours in hopes to help improve his appetite and overall health.
Lucian was discovered in the basement of an abandoned Ohio home along with his brother Lumos and his sister Latte in early August 2010. They were immediately rescued by Luv-A-Bull Rescue Group and taken to Germantown Animal Health Center for treatment.
Lucian was the worst of the three dogs that were near death due to extreme neglect and starvation. He was the only one of the three that was unable to stand on his own. When Dr. Wood saw the rescue group carrying him into the clinic, she assumed he was already dead and was shocked to discover he was still alive!
He was so emaciated that his skull was sunken and almost looked deformed. His bones would rub against each other due to lack of any cushioning from fat. He was also anemic due to a massive flea infection, as well as a severe case of hookworm.
He was unable to eat and drink on his own and did not start to gain weight until the veterinarian at Germantown Animal Health Center decided to take him home to give him additional care in the evenings. At this point, he went from 33 lbs to 37.2 lbs within a week. A slow start, but a sign there was hope.
Here is Lucian just two weeks after being rescued. He was already up to 55 lbs and filling in nicely. His organs were functioning normally and his blood work continued to improve, along with his appetite and his weight.
He still had a ways to go on his road to recovery, but the outpouring of support and donations from people who heard his story was helping to ensure he would receive all the care that he needed plus some.
Here he is with his brother Lumos who was also rescued from the basement, but managed to be in a little better shape than Lucian. Lumos and Latte were able to eat on their own and put on weight easier than their unfortunate brother. Latte, the third dog found in the abandoned home, was already with a foster family at this time.
Lucian looks 100 times better now than when he was discovered, near death, in the basement of his owner’s home. It’s sickening that people can have such little regard for the life and well-being of animals. No matter what this man did to deserve going to prison, the dogs did not deserve to rot in his home while he was incarcerated. I’m just glad that someone discovered they were there in time to rescue the dogs before it was too late!
Many people believe that when you work in the veterinary field you have to do all that you can to save every animal that comes in, even if they have no owner or if the owner can’t afford treatment. There have been a lot of upset clients that I have dealt with through the years who get upset when veterinary clinics won’t treat an animal for free just for the love of animals. We get accused of being a mercenary and that we “obviously” don’t care. However, that is far from the truth. It is heart breaking to turn anyone away or to offer euthanasia when the animal has the ability to improve with expensive treatments. People forget that veterinary clinics are businesses and as such, we are in business to make money. Veterinarians have a lot of overhead and I have seen more than a few destroy their businesses and go under because of too much charity. Sadly when that happens, zero animals get treated. So, although we wish we could save every animal that walks through the door, regardless of the available finances accompanying said animal, that’s just not practical.
That is one of the reasons that it is so much fun when veterinarians occasionally do take on charity cases (and we do), or when the rescuer finances the treatments, or in Lucian’s case when donations are provided which pay for all care and allows us to do everything we can to improve the life and happiness of a beautiful animal. That is the reason we work in the veterinary field in the first place. I love seeing stories like that of Lucian, Lumos, and Latte. And I’m so grateful they were able to document their transformation. Hopefully his story helps to inspire other would be rescuers to do all that they can when they run across an animal in need.