Dog Hit By Car Spends 24 Days in Hospital at Advanced Veterinary Care Center

May 3, 2021

Experts at Advanced Veterinary Care Center Help Skippy Make an Incredible Recovery


“It was horrible seeing him roll under the front wheels,” recalls pet owner Jan Heinrich. Her 6-year-old retriever mix, Skippy, had been hit by a car in front of her house. “I knew I had to get him to a veterinarian. When I called my regular vet, they were closed. So, I looked up emergency 24 hour and found Advanced Veterinary Care Center was close to my house.”

Jan arrived to AVCC in Davie (Broward County) and nurses brought Skippy right inside. Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Shiara Arulpragasam, along with AVCC’s team of emergency doctors and nurses, got right to work on Skippy. Stabilization of Skippy’s vital organ systems and pain management were immediate priorities followed by initial wound care. “At first we thought he may have to be euthanized,” recalls Jan somberly. “His injuries were pretty bad.” Skippy had an open fractured right tarsus (ankle), severe degloving wounds (missing skin) to his left groin and leg, an open tail fracture and pulmonary contusions. Open fractures are those in which there is also a wound at the fracture site, meaning the underlying bone is exposed and contaminated.

Skippy gets lots of love from staff, including emergency assistant Jessica.

“Polytrauma cases (where animals suffer multiple severe injuries) are always more challenging to treat,” says Dr. Arulpragasam. “They require multiple surgeries and have a higher risk of complications. In Skippy’s case, he had severe injuries to both hind limbs. He had a right tarsal fracture and was missing skin (degloving wound) over a large potion of his left hind leg and abdomen. At presentation, we didn’t know if he would be able to fully recover on either hind leg, so limb amputation was not an option.”

Skippy’s Treatment Plan

Skippy initially required multiple days of wound care to remove dead and contaminated tissue. Once the condition of his wounds improved, Dr. Arulpragasam took Skippy to surgery for his tail amputation and vacuum assisted closure (VAC) of the large wound on his groin. VAC is a noninvasive, active, closed wound management system that exposes the wound to negative pressure. VAC is used to stimulate granulation tissue formation, reduce swelling and improve circulation.  It also maintains an ideal moist wound-healing environment. It is ideal for the treatment of large and complex wounds. The VAC was changed out every 2 days until the wound was healthy enough for skin closure.

Skippy snuggles with emergency nurse Samuel.

While the VAC was in place, Skippy also underwent surgery to repair his ankle fracture with a pin. Skippy had a comminuted ankle fracture, meaning the bone was in several small pieces and not all of them could be repaired. Dr. Arulpragasam placed the pin to stabilize the joint and improve healing.  She also placed Skippy in a splint for several months, to provide support while healing.

Once the large wound was deemed sufficiently healthy, the VAC was removed. Skippy required several additional hours of surgery to close this wound. This was done using a skin flap from the right side of the abdomen that was transposed over to the left abdomen and inner thigh region. Post-operatively, Skippy developed an infection that required injectable antibiotics and a final surgery for minor wound revision and drain placement. Then, Skippy was able to fully heal.

Sweet Skippy

“Though Skippy needed several surgeries to recover from his injuries and required weeks of in hospital care, he was always very sweet and happy to see me every day. Seeing patients like Skippy recover from such a traumatic event, makes my job as a small animal surgeon extremely rewarding,” says Dr. Arulpragasam.

Skippy at home today.

Skippy was hospitalized for 24 days, with much of the time in intensive care. “Dr. Arulpragasam was fantastic,” exclaims Jan. “Every day she called me. She is very understanding and empathetic and a very skilled professional. All the staff, they were so kind and everyone said they fell in love with Skippy. I would go back there in a heartbeat.”

Skippy Today

Today Skippy is doing great according to Jan. “He walks, he jumps and he entertains us,” she says happily. “I love this dog. They saved Skippy’s life. They put him back together. We have our boy back!”

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