Vivienne is about to lose a leg, but it’s unlikely she’ll lose her playfulness. And it’s certain she won’t lose the need to be loved.
The nearly 4-month-old Collie mix being fostered with Waxhaw-based rescue Carolina PAWS has a broken right front leg that isn’t healing properly. The rescue has consulted several specialists who agree that amputation is the best course of action for the puppy’s health and long-term chances for adoption.
The surgery, set for Oct. 29 at SouthPark Animal Hospital, will cost approximately $1,000 – more than the rescue has ever had to fund for a specific case. So it’s calling out to the public for donations.
Never miss a local story.
“From a rescue standpoint and an adoptability standpoint, we know we have to do the surgery sooner than later,” said Robin Essenmacher, president of Carolina PAWS. “We want her to find her forever home. This is the best way for her to get that as soon as possible and give her a happy, healthy life.”
It’s unclear how and when Vivienne’s leg was broken. According to Essenmacher, the puppy either came in as a stray at Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control on Sept. 20, or someone brought her in.
When animal control determined the leg was probably broken, “they immediately put her out to rescue because they do not have the resources or funds to take care of something like this,” Essenmacher said. “The volume they have is overwhelming.”
Carolina PAWS also faces a challenge.
Essenmacher noted that “our rescue is funded solely by donations, all volunteers who do not get paid. We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Every dollar that’s received goes back into the animals that we care for. ... We have special-needs cases that come up every once in awhile.”
Because Carolina PAWS does not have a facility, all of its rescues are in foster homes. April Gardner, a board member and secretary for the rescue, is caring for Vivienne at her Charlotte home.
“She’s a different situation,” Gardner said. “We’re keeping her in my home until she recovers from the amputation” for liability reasons.
Gardner said the recovery time for puppies is very fast, adding that Vivienne will be spayed around that time.
Essenmacher and Gardner are confident that amputation can’t be avoided. According to Essenmacher, Vivienne was taken to an orthopedic specialist who looked at X-rays and determined there was a fracture.
“Because puppies when they’re that young grow so fast, it was not set or casted right away,” Essenmacher said. “It has to be done immediately. So it healed wrong, and the bone is growing irregularly and scar tissue is forming around there. ...
“She will have severe pain and arthritis without the amputation.” She said doctors at SouthPark “felt there was something going on there that no surgery was going to be able to correct.”
Gardner – who estimates she’s taken in about 30 dogs in her two years with the rescue – said there was something special about Vivienne from the moment she saw her.
“We get emails nearly every day from different shelters that Robin sends out, of all the dogs that are supposedly due out by whatever date,” Gardner said. “If we see a face that really speaks to us, we call Robin ... and then we go pull the dog from the shelter.
“She’s really a great balance of puppy. She likes to play and roughhouse ... yet she lies around and is a cuddler. She’s a sweetheart that’s really happy to please.”
“She’s got a great disposition,” Essenmacher said. “She’s awful sweet. It’s amazing, it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been doing this, that animals are resilient to pain. ... “(April) is having a difficult time getting her to not play. Right now she’s supposed to be on limited activity.”
The name Vivienne is derived from the Latin vivus. It means “alive.”