Mending Butch’s broken legs

Closeup of stray dog, Butch, with a volunteer.
Butch waits outside the Veterinary Teaching Hospital with a volunteer from SCRAPS.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Exactly how Butch, a Labrador-retriever mix, ended up alone and suffering with two broken legs is anyone’s guess.

That’s a story only he can tell.

Whatever bad luck befell the roughly 1-year-old stray dog, his future is looking much more promising after he found his way to the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service and, later, Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

In just 48 hours after arriving at SCRAPS, nearly $10,000 in donations was raised to help pay for the surgeries needed to repair his legs and give him a second chance at life.

“You see the best and worst in this job, so it is nice to see the best,” said Dr. Peter Gilbert, a small animal orthopedic surgeon at WSU. “Everyone feels good about this one – a group of people got together to do something good. And you can tell everyone who has been working with Butch here at the teaching hospital has a little spring in their step.”

Butch was brought to SCRAPS on Friday, March 26, after he was found injured and unable to move, with his left legs both appearing to be broken. After X-rays confirmed the severity of his injuries, shelter officials contacted WSU.

An X-ray show’s Butch’s tibial fracture in his rear left leg, which was repaired with locking plate and screws.

“We’ve worked with Wazzu in the past and we know that WSU is really the place to go for specialized care in our area,” SCRAPS Director Lindsey Soffes said.

Butch was transported to Pullman the following day, and he underwent procedures Monday and Wednesday with Dr. Gilbert and Dr. Roger Rengert, the senior small animal surgery resident at WSU. Dr. Gilbert said Butch’s front left leg was broken in multiple locations and his rear left leg had a fracture in the tibia.

Now recovering, Butch’s legs are full of pins and locking plate systems that will help support his weight and encourage healing. Dr. Gilbert also used synthetic bone grafts that will hopefully speed the recovery.

“I am very happy with how the surgeries went,” Dr. Gilbert said.

Dr. Gilbert said most fractures need six to 12 weeks to heal, but, given Butch’s young age, he anticipates the dog could be healed within eight weeks. Butch will be staying in a foster home during his recovery.

The most challenging part of the recovery will likely be keeping Butch from running, jumping and other movements that could delay his healing or reaggravate his injury.

Dr. Peter Gilbert, a small animal orthopedic surgeon at WSU, examines Butch prior to the first of two surgeries the dog had to repair his broken legs.

“He has been very calm here, so that is a good sign, but you never quite know, the test will be once he starts feeling good,” Dr. Gilbert said.

Soffes said Butch won’t be adopted to a new family until he is fully healed. When he is ready, she doesn’t expect it to take long to find him a home.

“Regardless of what he had been through, he was absolutely the sweetest and gentlest boy when he came to us,” Soffes said. “He was obviously in a huge amount of pain, but he allowed us to gently examine him; he allowed us to move him to a more comfortable cage; he allowed us to load and take him for X-rays. He did all of that without an ounce of any reactivity. He just was sweet. He wants to give kisses. It is just like he is thanking everybody for helping him.”

Soffes and her team at SCRAPS have been blown away by the support of the community and WSU.

“We just want to express tremendous gratitude to WSU for taking him on and taking him on so quickly, and we can’t thank the community enough for helping us to help him,” she said. “We are so grateful for every dollar and we cannot believe how many people saw his story and donated and wanted to help save him.”

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