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DDFL offers shelter animals special surgery

8:47 PM, Jan 12, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - They are the animals that are sometimes forgotten - dogs and cats that end up at the Denver Dumb Friends League. And for those that are hurt, they're getting more than just a band-aid. They're getting cutting edge treatments to help them recover.

DDFL is one of the few shelters in the country that offers external fixation to dogs and cats with broken bones. As DDFL veterinarian Dr. Jeff Fankhauser explains, it's a good alternative to splints, casts, or plates surgically attached to the animal's bone.

"I think the primary advantage of external fixation is the versatility and the ease with which the surgeon can apply it," Fankhuser said. "We don't need as large of surgical incisions as you would [think] to put in a bone plate, for instance. And at the end of the healing process, most of the hardware is removed from the animal. So I think that there's some long-term advantage to that as well."

A few days after a dog or cat gets the external fixation surgery, it is placed in a foster home. Dr. Fankhauser says that gives the animal a more natural environment to heal in. Foster "parent" Andrea Lawless agrees.

"The foster program is really important for kittens and cats like this, so they can have a place like a home for them to recover and it gives them the time that they need so that they're not in a kennel for three to four weeks recovering. They get to be in a nice home environment where they get to be safe and have fun," Lawless said.

Right now, Lawless is fostering a kitten named Frankie, who is recovering from a broken bone, thanks to external fixation surgery. Lawless says that if you couldn't see the apparatus, you'd never know Frankie was hurt. He loves to play just like any other cat. But if Frankie hadn't been treated, his future would have been anything but normal.

"He's really lucky that he was able to get this procedure because otherwise he may have had to lose his leg and then he would have been a three-legged cat for the rest of his life," explained Lawless.

Because the DDFL is one of only a handful of shelters offering external fixation, they treat animals from all over the state. Once animals like Frankie have healed, they help them find forever homes.

If you'd like to volunteer to foster a homeless pet, visit the Denver Dumb Friends League's website.

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