Community animal groups,
CVM docs unite to save dog

Bella received care and is alive today, thanks to the UF shelter medicine clerkship program and local community rescue groups.

After months of treating chronic, painful ear infections, Bella’s owners recognized they could no longer meet her medical needs and made the heartbreaking decision to relinquish her to the shelter at Alachua County Animal Services.

“Bella awaited an uncertain fate at the shelter,” said Dr. Brian DiGangi, a clinical assistant professor of shelter medicine at UF.  “She was in so much pain that she wouldn’t allow shelter workers to approach her for a final attempt at treatment.”

That’s when the staff at Puppy Hill Farm Animal Rescue recognized Bella as one of their own. They immediately contacted Dr. Natalie Isaza, chief of the Shelter Animal Medicine clerkship program to see if she could help.  Isaza enrolled Bella in the lifesaving HAARTS program which exists for cases just like Bella. After hours of intricate surgery and two procedures performed by soft tissue surgery service chief Dr. Gary Ellison and Dr. James Coisman, a small animal surgery resident, Bella was on the road to recovery. Although hearing-impaired, she is now finally pain-free and is enjoying her new lease on life.

“Bella is currently completing her recovery in a foster home where she spends her time chasing lizards and following her nose,” DiGangi said.

Since its inception, the HAARTS program has saved the lives of over 500 animals at risk for euthanasia in local shelters and currently relies on private donations.

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