Animal Hospital Donates Services for Service Dog

Hospital in North Andover, Mass., performed knee surgery on Bear, a seizure-alert dog.

Bulger Veterinary Hospital in North Andover, Mass., recently donated its services by performing reconstructive knee surgery on Bear, a 6-year-old Pomeranian who has been trained to respond to or warn his owner of impending seizures.

“I was amazed at [Bulger Veterinary Hospital’s] understanding of my unique and difficult situation,” said Bear’s owner Linda Blais, who did not have the funds to cover the surgery. “Bear is not only my best friend, but he is my savior. I depend on him to keep me alive and alert, and his surgery was a blessing and a gift to me and my family.”

Lauren Blaeser, D.V.M., Dipl. ACVS, performed the anterior cruciate ligament and medial patella luxation surgery in late May.

It is not uncommon for toy breed dogs to have a medial patella luxation, also referred to as MPL, according to the veterinary hospital. MPL is a condition in which the kneecap slips out of its groove toward the other leg. In Bear’s case, not only did he have the most severe case of MPL, he also had torn his anterior cruciate ligament, which is responsible for maintaining stability of the knee joint.

As of June 11, Bear was recovering very well and was already back to work, according to Blaeser. The next phase is physical therapy.

“We are initiating passive range of motion exercises to maintain his range of motion,” Blaeser said. “In addition, we will allow a progressive increase in leash walks to start to build up his muscle mass. We will not allow off-leash activity until his radiographs in six weeks. The owner is very happy with his progress up to this point and Bear is happy to be back in his owner’s arms.”

Bear’s total recovery and rehabilitation is anticipated to last about eight weeks.

Seizure dogs, first recognized nationally in the early 1980s, are trained to pick up on subtle changes in behavior or a scent from the epileptic owner prior to the onset of a seizure. 

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