From Belize to College Station to Save Jack
Posted April 05, 2012
It was hope and personal sacrifice that led to a successful
recovery for Jack Penland, a six-year-old yellow Labrador, during
his seven week stay at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences' (CVM) Veterinary Medical
Teaching Hospital (VMTH). Mary and Doug Penland, Jack's owners,
traveled the almost 2000 mile trek from Belize to College Station
when their veterinarian in Belize referred them to the VMTH so that
their dog would have a chance at survival.
"Jack was referred in from his veterinarian in Belize for vague
signs of lethargy, weakness, muscle pain, and some blood work
changes," says Dr. Heather Kvitko-White, veterinary resident
instructor at the CVM. "After running several tests, we eventually
discovered that he had a bacterial infection of his vertebrae in
his spine, heart, and joints."
Kvitko recalls that Jack was in a lot of pain. He spent three
weeks in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the VMTH. He then spent
another month building up his strength in the hospital's
rehabilitation service. Jack also benefitted from the
multi-disciplinary teamwork that is a hallmark of the teaching
hospital, as he saw almost every specialist in the
Kvitko adds, "Because he was so sick for so long, he became
very weak - due to muscle wasting, joint pain, and severe back pain
- and was not able to stand up on his own. It took a lot of work
managing his pain before our rehabilitative service could work with
him. Eventually, with a lot of persistence from his owners, our ICU
nurses, and our entire hospital staff (internal medicine,
neurology, orthopedics, anesthesia/analgesia for pain consultation,
and cardiology), were able to control his pain enough to start
working with him on the water treadmill. He is now able to
Even though his disease is currently well under control, he will
need to be on antibiotics for a while.
"Jack was very sick and not every family would have been able to
push through this," says Kvitko. "Fortunately, his owners had the
will to go forward, and things have turned out very
Mary resided in a local hotel for the full seven weeks of Jack's
treatment, while Doug traveled back and forth from Belize to come
to Mary and Jack's side. Together, they were able to be supportive
of Jack during the whole process.
"This entire journey has been such a rollercoaster for us," says
Mary. "He was very sick, and now we are eternally grateful for Dr.
Kvitko and the rest of the staff's hard work to save his life. He
can now go back home to be with his brothers and sister and enjoy
his favorite pastime - diving into the ocean for conch
The moment was bittersweet as Kvitko said goodbye to Mary and
Jack when he was released from the VMTH on April 4. However, the
clinicians and staff have something to look forward to when Jack
returns in six months for his follow-up.
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
*Top Photo: (From left to right) Abigail Rafferty, veterinary
technician in the rehabilitative service, Mary Penland, and
Dr. Kvitko gather around Jack.
*Middle Photo: Mary Penland looks on as Jack exercises in the
*Bottom Photo: Mary Penland pulls Jack in his wagon as they exit
the Small Animal Hospital.
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