Friends in need: Local vets help when others cannot


By Amy Geiszler-Jones - Photography by Aaron Patton


Layla has a new lease on life, while Pumpkin is all smiles, thanks to the compassionate efforts of animal welfare organizations and veterinarians in Wichita.
    A number of veterinarians in the greater Wichita area partner with rescue groups and others to provide what easily amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in services for dogs down on their luck. 
    “It’s a must,” said Randi Carter, board member of Beauties and Beasts. “If we didn’t have those relationships, we couldn’t do what we do.” 
    Formed in 2014, Beauties and Beasts has become one of the area’s top rescues for death-row dogs, finding foster and adoptive homes through savvy social marketing efforts for dogs who might otherwise be euthanized. 
    It’s also become one of the area’s top medical rescuers, stepping in to get medical care for shot dogs, dogs hit by cars and others, said Carter. 
    Last year alone, Carter said, the nonprofit group spent more than $200,000 in animal medical services at clinics including Countryside Pet Clinic in Andover, El Paso Animal Hospital in Derby, Solomon Veterinary Clinic in Wichita and the Veterinarian Emergency & Special Hospital of Wichita (VESHW). The bills were paid in full with donation campaigns carried out on each animal’s behalf.
    “Having partnerships with vets that will provide some reduced-cost services is extremely valuable and it’s something that we truly appreciate,” said Ericka Goering, director of marketing and communications at the Kansas Humane Society, which partners with three vet clinics for such services. If the society’s own clinic can’t be used for various reasons, such as specialized equipment is needed or a full surgery schedule, it calls on those vets. 
    “The time and money that we are able to save goes toward helping additional animals,” Goering said. “In the end, it means more lives can be saved by working together. If we get behind schedule on spay/neuter surgeries, it can increase the amount of time an animal has to wait before being made available for adoption. We always want our animals to find loving homes quickly because the shelter environment can be stressful. Because of this, we try to work with the local vets when we have an animal that will require a major surgery that could take several hours and multiple staff members to complete.” 
    VESHW is among the vets the humane society works with. 
    “We have an incredibly compassionate team of people who truly want the very best for these pets,” said Heather Newhouse, the hospital’s director of marketing. “We have partnered with several groups and rescues, providing medical treatment and rehabilitation to get (dogs) back on their paws (and) giving them the best chance of getting adopted.”
    Here are the stories of just two dogs on the receiving end of the generosity of folks who care for and about animals.
    Layla, a 1-year-old Siberian husky, was in shock and hurting from her own injury after getting struck by a car in an accident that killed her 14-year-old German shorthaired pointer companion. The pointer – a breed known for its hunting abilities – had likely acted instinctively when it saw a bird flying into the street and had taken off in pursuit. Layla, watching from the front door, wanted to see what had gotten her four-legged friend’s attention and chased after the dog.
    Unable to afford the emergency bills, the family signed over ownership of Layla to Beauties and Beasts, who took her to VESHW, Carter said. Layla had a break in the tibia on the lower part of one of her legs, said Newhouse.
    As Beauties and Beasts took over Layla’s care, it posted updates online and shared Layla’s story as it solicited donations to cover what would be a $2,000 medical bill. It went from being a story about a dog hit by a car, to a dog that got hit by the same car that killed her companion, to how this dog had a 15-year-old owner who loved it but the parents had just recently incurred some major family medical bills, said Carter.
    “Layla was so sad and depressed but when she saw her kid, she lit up,” Carter said. The case marked the first time Beauty and Beasts returned an injured dog to its original owners since it found no negligence on the owners’ part, she said.
    When Pumpkin came to the Kansas Humane Society, she was having trouble drinking and eating. 
    After examining Pumpkin, Dr. Douglas Winter, a board-certified veterinary dentist and oral surgeon with VESHW, found she had a hole in the roof of her mouth that could let food and water pass into her airway and lungs and put her at risk for choking or pneumonia. Otherwise, she could be a fit and healthy dog.
    After two surgeries six weeks apart, during which some teeth were pulled and tissue was grafted to cover the hole, Pumpkin ended up being adopted by a former KHS employee.
    “He was so happy after he healed up from his last surgery,” his new owner, Ashley Thornton, told VESHW staff. “He still has a great smile, even though he’s missing a few teeth now.”