Paralyzed Pup Gets Second Chance Thanks to UC Davis Veterinary Hospital

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DAVIS -- Seldom do we hear about the effects of paralysis being reversed, especially for our pets!

But that's exactly the kind of second chance Leah, a four-year-old border collie from Grass Valley, received after being treated recently at UC Davis Veterinary Hospital.

"She has resumed pretty much her old lifestyle," exclaimed Leah's owner, Fran Cole. "You know, digging in bushes for squirrels, and spending her days ... you know, she loves to be outside."

For Leah though, those days came to a screeching halt six months ago when she went missing for a day. When she returned, Fran knew something just wasn't right with her.

"She had a gash in her face," Cole said. "She was recovering nicely, but then on the third day she had a very devastating deterioration in her condition, and she was unable to walk at that point."

Leah was completely paralyzed from the trauma she endured. Some have speculated maybe a deer had kicked her in the head, while others say she could have been struck by a car. One thing they did know for sure was that Leah was in bad shape.

"Most times when this happens the animal or person dies," said Dr. Karen Vernau, the chief of neurological surgery at the hospital. "I mean something happened because the bone was broken and totally pulled off the back of the head. So there was some major trauma to do that. It just didn't slip out on its own."

Leah's spinal column had detached from the back of her head. Vernau and her team not only had to fit the bones back together, but also relieve the compression on both her brain and spinal cord. It was a complicated process and there was no guarantee Leah would walk again.

"One day she started to move a little bit of her leg," Cole said. "She would wag her tail when I came into the room."

Leah then began rehabilitation. Acupuncture and water treadmill therapy got her back into shape and ready to go home.

"I want to give people hope," said Cole. "People who have animals that seem as if there is no hope for them at all. If you talk to the right experts and receive the type of quality care that I have here, you know there is good hope your dog can make it, and I just want to share that message."