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Late Wednesday, August 17, 2011 two pit bulls, Vonn and
Esperanza, were brought to the Aggieland Health Center by a
concerned citizen, Christi Wuthrich, who found the dogs near her
home with injuries indicative of severe abuse.
Esperanza's ailments were evident as her whiskers were singed
off, and she sustained a fractured pelvis and extensive bite marks
across her body. Dr. Barbara Hannes, veterinarian with the
Aggieland Animal Health Center, and her team felt confident that
they could treat Esperanza in-house. However, Vonn, Esperanza's
six-month-old puppy, sustained very severe burns all over his body,
possibly exposing him to deadly infections. To give him the best
chance at survival, Hannes enlisted the help of Dr. James Barr,
clinical assistant professor in emergency and critical care at the
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences (CVM), to treat Vonn. Soon afterwards, Terry Stiles,
hospital director for the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at
CVM, approved treatment for Vonn. Around 10 p.m. Barr and his
critical care team of residents and technicians transferred Vonn to
the VMTH and began treatment.
"With any burn victim, the major wildcard is possible
infection," Barr explains. "Our foremost concern is taking care of
Vonn and his needs. We would like to give credit to Dr. Hannes and
thank her for stabilizing Vonn and Esperanza."
Dr. Eleanor M. Green, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine,
offered her support to the critical care and soft tissue surgery
teams in charge of Vonn's care.
"This is a sad story, but we are grateful that we have the
greatest team of specialists and start-of-the-art tools to give
Vonn the best chance he has for survival," Green says. "We are also
fortunate that Christi Wuthrich, a great Samaritan, came forward to
help these abused animals in their greatest time of need."
The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the CVM is the only
teaching hospital in the state of Texas. With the largest group of
specialists under one roof in Texas, the VMTH is doing everything
they can to give Vonn his life back.
If you would like to help in Vonn's pursuit for survival, please send any
donations to the Capper & Chris Save the Animals Fund. Any
funds raised in excess of the amount required for Vonn's treatment
will remain in the Capper & Chris Save the Animals Fund to aid
in treatment for other animals whose owners cannot afford proper
The Capper & Chris Save the Animals Fund provides financial
assistance to pet owners who could not otherwise afford a
lifesaving procedure for their animal, especially those pets that
might have to be euthanized due to prohibitive financial hardship
to the family.
The fund, created by Mrs. Capper Thompson, was established as a
memorial to Chris Stehouwer, a Texas A&M University student and
animal lover who was killed in a tragic accident.
The teams at the VMTH changed the name of the dog from Vici to
Vonn to represent the Viking name meaning warrior.
Dr. Barr explains that Vonn is in stable condition in the
Intensive Care Unit. He is comfortable and is being watched by
several residents and technicians for any complications that may
arise due to any infection risks.
Dr. Brooke Smith, veterinary resident instructor for emergency
and critical care at the CVM, reports that Vonn has made amazing
improvements. Yesterday evening, the CVM team decreased his
sedatives and he became much more alert. His appetite was
significantly increased as he ate an entire bowl of chicken. His
attitude also improved dramatically, because as soon as he
was finished with his meal he jumped out of his ICU cage
and proceeded to run to the park with the CVM team located
right outside of ICU.
The CVM team is currently running his blood work to test his
protein level. Their hopes are high for his recovery.
Vonn continues to do well with eating and loves the time he gets
to spend outside. All levels look positive. At this time, he does
not appear to need any more plasma transfusions.
Vonn continues to show improvement and his activity level is
increasing. The treatment team continues to monitor his progress to
ensure continued improvement.
Dr. Smith says, "Vonn is doing well. He is having some
difficulty regulating his temperature, because of the extent of his
wounds. However, for the most part, he is happy and wants to be in
someone's lap at all times."
Dr. Smith explains, "Vonn is still having problems keeping
his temperature regulated. But overall, he is back to being a
normal puppy who can't figure out why we keep wrapping him up in
all of his bandages. He loves his kong filled with treats and still
his favorite place to be is in someone's lap."
Dr. Smith notes, "Vonn is doing great this afternoon.
Throughout his hospitalization, he has been receiving multiple IV
injections, including antibiotics, pain control, and
gastrointestinal protectants. Because he is eating so well, we are
now in the process of getting him switched over to oral
medications. So far, so good."
Dr. Smith explains, "Vonn is holding steady. We're stopping all
of his injectable medications this morning, and his appetite is
still excellent despite taking multiple oral medications. His
wounds are starting to show signs of contraction, which is so
exciting for us to see! This means that the surface area of the
wounds is less than before and his skin cells are doing their best
to create new skin."
Dr. Smith says, "Vonn's wounds look great today! His
protein levels are holding steady, and he still remains the
sweetest dog I have ever met!"
Dr. Smith reports, "Vonn is swiftly
becoming the mascot of the Small Animal Clinic. He knows his daily
routine perfectly and leads us to the treatment room every morning
for his daily wound care. We found out that his new favorite food
is scrambled eggs. We think that is why he continues to be
optimistic about his anesthesia...because he knows he will get a
home cooked breakfast after he wakes up."
Dr. Smith explains, "Vonn continues to
amaze us with his positive outlook and fantastic personality. While
still a little groggy from his morning anesthesia, he decided to
'leash walk me' around the hallways of the small animal clinic. He
made sure to stop and greet every person that walked by. We
lovingly coined it the 'Vonn's Day Parade'."
Dr. Smith says, "Vonn most definitely
has healing super-powers (as advertised by the Super man sticker on
his bandage). Each time we remove his bandages, there is a mini
celebration about how well his new skin is coming in. Both of his
previously burned limbs are so improved that he only required a
small bandage over his body today. Now the hardest part of
his treatment is keeping up with him as he dashes around the
Dr. Smith says, "Vonn has officially
turned back into a happy, playful, curious puppy. He has discovered
toys and has picked a small, brown teddy bear as his favorite
playmate. He learned last night what the game of fetch is all about
and will retrieve his bear at least twice before he decides to go
love on all the people who are oo-ing and awh-ing all over him. No
matter how much he likes to play, finding a lap to sit in still is
his top priority."
Dr. Smith expresses that, "We reached
a huge milestone in Vonn's treatment this weekend. His wounds are
healing so well that he no longer requires full anesthesia for his
daily wound care. Now, he gets a small amount of sedation for a
quick procedure and he is up and eating in no time. We feel pretty
strongly that by the end of this week, he will be at a point
that he may not even need bandages. Amazing!"
Dr. Barr explains, "We, at the VMTH,
appreciate the continued heartwarming support that Vonn has
generated. We are amazed at the remarkable progress that Vonn has
made, and we think that his recovery is nothing short of a miracle.
He continues to be the sweetest, most well-tempered dog, especially
under his circumstances. On behalf of the faculty and clinicians at
the CVM, it is imperative that we follow Vonn's lead and release
him when his condition deems it is appropriate. There is a long
list of people interested in taking Vonn in to continue with
rehabilitation from his recent injury, after his stay here at the
VMTH. Our number one concern is maintaining Vonn's health and
happiness while he is here at the VMTH to prepare him for a long
life full of continued good health and happiness."
Dr. Smith says, "All I can say is that
this place will definitely feel the void when Vonn is ready to head
off to his new adoptive home. He is the face that everyone looks
forward to seeing when they walk into the hospital. He stops the
crowds when his playful puppy personality flourishes while he is
chasing his favorite toys. He is absolutely a precious
Dr. Smith recalls, "We are getting so
close to the end of Vonn's treatment! His wounds continue to
improve everyday and we feel strongly that with only a few more
days of healing required, his risk of infection at this point is
minuscule. His appetite is voracious, as we would expect from a
growing playful puppy. We are ecstatic that despite this long,
difficult journey he has so bravely faced, he has gained almost 6
pounds! We are so proud of him!"
Dr. Smith says, "Well we have to come
clean...it's possible that we may have created a full blown
attention-hog. It is no longer okay for Vonn to go outside to potty
and come right back to his kennel. Every few minutes, his majesty
requires a stroll around the hospital to meet and greet and show
off his favorite toys and excellent fetching skills. I like to say
that he is not spoiled, he is just well loved."
Dr. Smith notes, "We can definitely
see the light at the end of the tunnel for Vonn's wounds. He still
has a few areas that require daily bandaging and topical
medications, but these areas are shrinking by the hour. We are
hoping that he will be completely free of his bandages by next
week, and I know he is counting down the days."
Vonn recently visited the college's
photography studio to show his Aggie pride for College Colors
Day. Below are some images from his photoshoot.
Dr. Smith says, "Vonn is doing
fantastic! He is eating like a champ! His attitude is also
exemplary. Yesterday he was prancing around in his A&M jersey
and he did not want to take it off. We are expecting for him to
enter a safe and happy home very soon."
Dr. Smith explains, "No big changes
with Vonn today, he just continues to bring a smile to everyone's
face on a daily basis. Although we all recognize that we made a
huge difference in his life by helping him through these past few
weeks. He is the one spreading limitless joy to all those around
him with his loving and playful spirit. He is, most certainly, a
very special boy."
Dr. Smith says, "As we come very close
to the end of Vonn's stay at the CVM, all of the doctors and staff
that have put many hours of time into his care, would like to send
a very big and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has donated to
Vonn and Esperanza's cause. Because of your support, they will be
living a long, happy life in a very loving home. Vonn and Esperanza
are extremely lucky to have so many people love them, and I
guarantee they are so grateful for each and every one of you!"
spent a successful night at his new home. He is
continuing to come back to the VMTH for treatment and he should be
fully recovered in a few days.
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