A stray German Shepherd was given a second chance at life thanks to the efforts of one man and a shelter who refused to give up on the dog. Heiko was found wandering the streets in July and was brought in to Genesee County Animal Shelter in Batavia, NY. He arrived at the shelter seriously underweight and behaved very aggressively towards people.
When Tom Ryan, a volunteer with Volunteers For Animals, learned about Heiko, he wanted to help and arranged to foster the dog. Volunteer For Animals works closely with the shelter and Tom had previously adopted two dogs from them – another German Shepherd and a Border Collie.
As soon as Tom took Heiko in, he noticed the dog’s walk was unbalanced. Upon taking him to the vet, an X-ray revealed the likely source of Heiko’s aggression – a bullet lodged in his left knee bone. It had shattered part of his tibia and badly damaged his ligaments. The injury was causing him a great deal of pain.
A vet recommended that Heiko either get an amputation or have his upper tibia fused. Tom decided to send the X-rays to his son, a veterinary radiologist, to see if anything else was an option. His son thought that reconstruction might be possible, so Tom approached The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which has an experimental program on canine knee replacements.
Although Heiko was not a candidate for replacement, he was put on a waiting list for a bone graft for another type of surgery. Tom was notified in October that Heiko could get the graft, he visited surgeon Dr. Jonathan Dyce, who examined Heiko and gave Tom an astounding piece of news. Heiko’s knee had mended on its own and surgery would not be needed. “He kept saying this is remarkable,” Tom said.
The surgeon suggested that Ryan continue his therapy and training work with Heiko and even begin running with him. Since then, Heiko has progressed with his physical rehabilitation and his training. Tom told the Daily News, Heiko has made amazing progress and is “great with people”.
Tom is modest about his efforts and has praise for the shelter who gave Heiko a chance. “It says a lot about the shelter. They were willing to give him a chance and willing to get past that description.”
As for Heiko’s future, Ryan has decided to adopt the dog he’s been fostering. Ryan said. “I guess I just have a soft spot for dogs that might be heading for the glue factory that don’t necessarily need to be. He has been great with people.”