When Coco, a two-year-old Chihuahua, was found she was tied to a tree, whimpering and cowering. She was abandoned, dirty, malnourished, and had clearly been abused given her gaunt appearance.
Coco’s new owner, an Oakdale resident who did not want her name used, took in the suffering dog and went to work to restore her to full health and win her trust – a task achieved and repaid plentifully with the love and devotion of the now-family pet.
As part of her recuperation from the neglect, her owner discovered the dog was having breathing difficulties. Coco received veterinary care from Oakdale’s Olde Towne Veterinary Hospital on South First Avenue.
“Upon entering the exam room I knew this was a serious condition, so I referred the case to UC Davis,” said Dr. Sergio Iniguez. “The poor girl had her tail wagging and seemed happy but didn’t know she had a serious problem.”
While at UC Davis, Coco was diagnosed as having a double chambered right ventricle, a rare heart condition where muscle bands split the heart chamber, making the heart inefficient.
According to Dr. Iniguez, the type of surgical procedure to correct the matter is very precise and has to be done at UC Davis. A team of veterinary doctors and specialized equipment is used.
Iniguez, who was a respiratory therapist for humans prior to becoming a veterinarian, said the procedure for Coco is commonly done on humans every day. Unfortunately the bill for the procedure at UC Davis ranges around $14,000, an amount her owner does not have.
“I’ve tried to let it go, but can’t,” said Iniguez. “As a vet, we’re taught that you sometimes get severe cases. There’s been something gnawing at me.”
Iniguez said he was surprised at Coco’s happy loving temperament, something not seen in the breed, let alone a dog that had a history of abuse.
To help out the situation, Olde Towne Veterinary Hospital has established an account to assist with the procedure.
Without it, Coco has to go through regular “bloodletting” that only alleviates the pressure on her heart and requires return trips. It’s unknown how long that process will be effective.
“The owner has such big heart, took in a neglected pet, and provided it with a good home,” said Iniguez. “A chord was struck. The poor thing was abused and neglected and then genetically got a bad heart.”
Those wishing to contribute can contact Olde Towne Veterinary Hospital at 144 S. First Ave, or call (209) 847-9077.