Saving Lives by Saving Limbs
New surgery program at Penn Vet aims to save shelter animals through orthopedic repair

Bess arrived at the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Team with an orthopedic injury. Her tibial tuberosity avulsion was repaired with pins and wire, and she was adopted by a fourth-year veterinary student.  David Holt, BVSc

Unfortunately, many cats and dogs that arrive at shelters with orthopedic injuries face amputation or euthanasia due to a lack of resources necessary for advanced medical treatment. However, thanks to University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s Saving Lives by Saving Limbs program, instead of facing euthanasia, animals that come in with treatable fractures are treated and put up for adoption.

Under the leadership of Dr. David Holt, and with a generous donation from the Kislak Family Foundation, UPenn’s Matthew Ryan Veterinary Hospital and it’s seven board certified surgical specialists and six surgical residents, are repairing the fractured limbs of shelter animals at cost. The plates and screws necessary for these surgeries are generously provided by DePuy Synthes.

Dr. Holt, Chief of Surgery at Penn Vet, was involved in the initial development of Shelter Animal Medicine at the School and has worked with the City of Philadelphia’s animal shelter for the last 14 years.

“This program gives students, interns, and residents the opportunity to participate in assessing, planning, and treating straightforward fractures in dogs and cats,” said Dr. Holt. “These experiences are relevant and very necessary for companion animal practice.”

Surgery candidates are selected by the shelter veterinarians on the basis of likely adoption once the facture is successfully treated at UPenn. The program’s patients are adopted to families who understand and are committed to the follow up care necessary for successful fracture healing. Follow-up care is performed at Ryan at no charge to the adopting owner.

“The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and the Kislak Family Foundation are pleased to provide funding for this pilot project to serve a population of previously overlooked homeless animals, “ said Dr. Paula Kislak, who serves on the Board of Directors for both organizations. “We are gratified with how Penn Vet has forged ahead so quickly and successfully with the implementation of this program, which also allows students, residents and interns additional shelter-based learning opportunities."

Apollo came to the ACCT with a fractured tibia. His facture was repaired with a plate.  David Holt, BVSc
Garth presented with a distal femoral growth plate fracture that was repaired with a plate. One of the nurses at VHUP adopted him.  David Holt, BVSc