The Story of Boo

Boo was a stray dog who came to the RAVS clinic a broken pelvis, but is now healing and on her way to a new life.

November 19, 2014
by Pam Runquist and Paul Breckinridge, DVM

It had been a long day at the HSVMA-RAVS wellness clinic on the Hoopa reservation in Northern California. Nothing out of the ordinary for the RAVS team, but long nevertheless. Still, as the sun set, one group of volunteers jumped at the chance to pack into the RAVS truck and visit the tiny animal shelter in town, working another hour or two to vaccinate dozens of cats and dogs for the local rescue group.

An Unexpected Emergency

Meanwhile, the volunteers left behind for cleanup were faced with another challenge. A community member walked in the door of the old church building where the clinic was being held, crying, holding a medium-sized white and black dog in her arms. She had hit the stray dog with her car and didn’t know what to do. The closest veterinary clinic was an hour away and trauma care was likely cost-prohibitive.

Good luck was in store that evening for the injured dog, later named "Boo" for the black spots on her side. Although the RAVS team did not bring its full surgical setup to Hoopa, the veterinary crew performed an initial assessment of her injuries and used the medical supplies on hand to treat for shock and relieve Boo’s pain and discomfort overnight. Seemingly un-phased by all of the attention, Boo pleased her new caregivers when she later proceeded to eat, get up to pee and settle down to sleep in a cage sandwiched between the student’s sleeping bags on the church floor.

With the Hoopa clinic ending the next day, Boo’s fate was uncertain. Her injuries were likely severe, and treatment could be lengthy and expensive. But – as so often happens on RAVS trips where animals’ lives are changed for the better whether from first-time wellness care or surgical intervention – Boo’s fate took a positive turn that day. A group of UC Davis veterinary students stepped forward and committed to trying to find Boo the medical care she needed. When final cleanup was done, Boo was bundled in their car for the five-hour drive back home and then off for x-rays and other diagnostics.

Boo gets some loving care from HSVMA-RAVS volunteers Elisa McEntee, Kristina Vivar, and Haley Williams. HSVMA

A Little Help from Friends

Kristina Vivar, one of the UC Davis students, took Boo to her brother, Dr. Richard Vivar at the Sunset Veterinary Hospital in San Francisco. Dr. Vivar donated his time and resources to fully evaluate Boo. Radiographs showed a fractured pelvis and blood tests indicated Boo was a good candidate for surgery ( view radiograph). Kristina took Boo back to UC Davis where the Veterinary College staff took time from their busy schedules to confirm the pelvic fracture and told Kristina about a grant that helps pay for complicated orthopedic surgeries on adoptable shelter animals, allowing orthopedic residents to gain more experience and shelters to save animals that might otherwise be euthanized. This was great news, but there was a catch: The surgery needed to be done the next day to optimize success, and the program only accepted animals from shelters. With success agonizingly close, Kristina contacted Dr. JJ Louie who had been one of the veterinarians at the Hoopa Clinic, and works at Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek, Calif. Dr. Louie presented the case to the Foundation’s directors, and ARF requested Boo be accepted in the UC Davis program. The next morning – only seven days after an unfortunate stray was struck by an unfortunate driver in the remote mountains of Northern California – Boo had seven hours of surgery to repair her pelvis, and is now recovering well in her foster home.

Boo is now healing in her foster home. Haley Williams

Making a Difference, One Life at a Time

Nearly 300 animals received vaccinations, flea and tick preventive and other wellness care at the Hoopa clinic that weekend. For those animals, that care was life-altering, since most would likely not receive any veterinary care if not for the RAVS team visiting. And, for Boo, former abandoned street dog, RAVS and the compassion of the student volunteers was life-saving.

“We all know we can’t save every animal in need,” wrote RAVS director Windi Wojdak, RVT, in her update to the Hoopa crew on Boo. “But when we put our passion and resources together, we can make a tremendous difference one life at a time. Thank you all for your hard work, dedication and compassion.”