Traveling at 30 miles an hour in the early morning on a sleepy suburban road, Preston was trapped. Somehow his tail had become stuck in the axle of a car and now this poor cat had to run alongside the car for dear life while the unaware owner of the vehicle started their commute to work. While driving, the vehicle's owner heard what sounded like muffled yowling from outside the car. Upon stopping and looking around the vehicle the driver was horrified to find Preston, scared and bleeding, attached to the car.

Preston was moving and seemed amenable enough to be picked up, so the Good Samaritan released Preston from the car’s grip, placed him gently in his car and brought him immediately to us. Upon arriving at the shelter we knew right away that he needed immediate medical attention.

Aside from obvious abrasions, Preston’s tail was roadburned and raw on the underside and broken at a 90 degree angle. There was also an old wound: a fracture of the tibia that had healed unnaturally, causing part of the bone to be sticking out through the skin near his back foot. The pain must have been unbearable as the skin was bald from Preston licking the area in a vain attempt for relief.

We took Preston to see Dr. Hayes at Boone Animal Hospital and the doctor knew exactly what to do to help. A portion of Preston’s tail needed to be amputated at the break and the bone from the old fracture-wound needed to be shaved down so it no longer would protrude through the skin and cause irritation. Dr. Hayes and the team at Boone worked tirelessly to patch up Preston’s wounds and repair his damaged body, eventually releasing him into a foster home when he was strong enough to move around on his own.

Preston was in foster care for about 8 months before he was well enough to be adopted. After a brief stay in our adoptable cat room Preston met Erica R, one of our amazing volunteers. She was all too happy to adopt him and let him continue to recover alongside her other fosters, which included a litter of kittens. Preston had to wear a plastic cone (which sort of looks like an Elizabethan collar) for several weeks while he healed, but this resilient guy didn’t seem to miss a beat. “Preston is adorable,” Erica beams. “His large, gold eyes draw you in and his markings are so cute. It’s fun to watch him twitch his little tail when he’s getting excited, especially while watching birds.”

Preston Ferrari EditNow fully healed and recovered, Preston has also been a wonderful big brother to several litters of kittens Erica’s fostered. He’s playful with them, but always gentle and it’s obvious the kittens adore him. Erica kept one of the kittens, Ferrari, and she and Preston have become best buddies.

“Preston is such a fun and important member of my family. He becomes more affectionate and trusting every day,” says Erica. “He was so lucky he made it to West Suburban Humane Society where he got care and love from all the doctors, staff, and volunteers who helped in his recovery. And I’m lucky Preston is a part of my family.”

We approach every day with desire and determination to help the most needy cats and dogs in Chicagoland. Behind us stands an army of dedicated and talented veterinarians, shelter staff and volunteers, each of them pitching in to make a difference in the lives of animals like Preston.

On #GivingTuesday, November 28th, 2017, we will be raising money for the Mowgli Fund, an emergency medical fund created to make sure we always have the resources available to give cats and dogs like Preston the care they desperately need. Please share these stories and mark your calendars for #GivingTuesday - our future cats and dogs in need will thank you.

Help us continue the good work we do and mark your calendars for November 28th, #GivingTuesday. Thank you!



On #GivingTuesday, November 28th, 2017, We Will Be Raising Money to Help More Animals Like Cody

Cody came to us from Perry County Humane Society, a no-kill shelter in southern Illinois who didn’t have the means to keep him at the time. We had Cody here about a week when we observed that he would sometimes limp when he was walking. Our volunteers also noticed that while he would try to run around and play, after about 5 minutes he would plop down and not want to get back up. We took him to the orthopedic vet where they discovered that he had a torn acl. They also found that his kneecap was not where it was supposed to be; they believed some sort of blunt trauma completely moved it.

This sort of unexpected medical issue is very expensive and most organizations would be unable to come up with funding to give Cody the necessary treatments that he would need to live a normal, healthy life. Fortunately here at WSHS, our mission is to give animals like Cody the chances they deserve. We dipped into our medical funding and our veterinarians performed successful surgery to get him back on his paws.  

Cody was placed into a foster home tasked with assisting with his rehabilitation and training. The home fell instantly in love with him, adopting him him shortly after he arrived. “The doctors weren't 100% sure that this risky surgery would work to relocate his kneecap, but it was worth taking a chance to save his leg,” explains foster parent and adopter Sarah M. “Recovery from surgery took several months and was very hard on a puppy that loved to play, but now that he's all healed up and done with rehab he’s better than ever.”

Cody 2Before his surgery, Cody was unable to run normally and would tire easily. Now, thanks to donors like you, he can run around for hours with his favorite giant red ball and live the life of a happy dog. We want to continue to make a difference in the lives of cats and dogs in Chicagoland and beyond, which is why we have created the Mowgli Fund. The emergency medical fund will ensure all animals that pass through our doors will get the life-changing medical treatments they deserve.

On November 28th, 2017, we will be participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving. On that day, we will be raising money for the Mowgli Fund to help more animals like Cody. These treatments, and your donations, really make a difference - just ask Sarah, “Cody is very happy that West Suburban Humane Society took a chance on him. Without them, there is a good chance he would not have had a chance at a full, healthy life!”

Help us continue the good work we do and mark your calendars for November 28th, #GivingTuesday. Thank you!


WSHS #GivingTuesday Banner

In an effort to save more needy cats and dogs in Chicagoland and beyond, we will be creating an emergency medical fund to ensure cats and dogs brought to our shelter will be able to receive life-saving veterinary care without hesitation. The fund, called the Mowgli Fund and named for an abandoned cat with medical issues who was saved by WSHS’ efforts, will be started with an endowment from a longtime donor with further funding collected from individual donors and grants throughout the year. An initial outreach appeal for the fund will begin on #GivingTuesday, November 28th, 2017.  

Emergency medical care for a single animal can cost thousands of dollars and these expenditures account for over 40% percent of our overall budget. Most animal welfare organizations do not have money in their budgets to help animals with severe health issues, leading to those animals being turned away or in some cases, humanely euthanized. Since 1972, we have made it our mission to help those animals most in need, and we regularly take on cases that require extensive medical treatment. However, on a yearly basis, the financial need for care regularly exceeds the organization’s means. The Mowgli Fund will allow WSHS to continue its mission by providing funding for, among other necessities:

  • Emergency surgeries and ER visits for at-risk animals
  • Extensive testing and specialist consultations
  • Ongoing medical care and treatments, including physical therapy, medicines and supplements

WSHS Executive Director Carolyn Mossberger believes that the fund will be crucial in furthering the mission of the organization. “We are asked on an almost weekly basis to take an animal that has a treatable medical need. The Mowgli Fund will allow us to continue to provide help to the most at risk homeless animals in our community, giving countless numbers of cats and dogs the second chance they deserve.”

MowgliMowgli, who the fund is named after, was abandoned by his owners when they moved out of their apartment. Fortunately, a kind realtor happened to stumble upon him when she went to the apartment to assess for future listing. She made some calls to animal welfare organizations to see about admitting Mowgli to their facilities, but was consistently turned down as none had the means to take on an 11 year old, sickly looking cat. That was until she reached us here at WSHS, and once we heard of the direness of Mowgli’s situation, we happily welcomed him through our doors.

Mowgli was in rough shape and needed immediate medical care. The main issue he had was a severe case of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a disorder that affects the intestines. After many rounds of expensive medical testing and treatment, Mowgli was able to finally go to his forever home, a wonderful volunteer who gave Mowgli a loving place to spend the rest of his days.

Cats and dogs like Mowgli are constantly turned away by animal welfare organizations who unfortunately do not have the resources to invest into these amazing animals. We want to be the exception to the rule and with our newly created emergency fund, we will be able to honor the memory of Mowgli by continuing to help future animals recover from their ailments and find their own forever homes.

Please consider a donation to the Mowgli fund on #GivingTuesday, November 28th, 2017. Chicagoland’s most needy animals will thank you.

Cat at Vet Blog

Ask the Vet with Dr. Main

The growth of pet health insurance businesses and large hospital groups has led to the availability of larger data sets about cat diseases. Through scientific advancements this data can be analyzed strategically to identify genetic tendencies. Further there is a deeper understanding of both the canine and feline genome. Veterinary medicine is moving in the direction of understanding canine and feline diseases on a genetic basis, in fact this is the future for pet health care.

One reason that it is important to recognize diseases that have a genetic basis, is that these diseases tend to be chronic and will require long term management. The top five conditions in this article are complexly inherited involving multiple gene combinations and environmental factors.

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is the most frequent hereditary predisposition observed in practice affecting up to 2% of all cats. Persian cats are at increased risk and Siamese are a decreased risk for FLUTD. Although the mode of inheritance is not known, genetic markers have been identified in cats with FLUTD. Once FLUTD is diagnosed practitioners know that the disease can recur if environmental stress factors are not controlled. Interestingly cats without the genetic marker for FLUTD will not break with the disease in a stressful environment.

Diabetes mellitus is number two in frequency and is more prevalent in Burmese, Siamese, Norwegian Forest Cat, Russian Blue, and the Abyssinian. Obesity is a predisposing factor; but in addition a gene mutation has been identified that is similar to findings associated with type 2 diabetes in people.

Lymphocytic or plasmacytic inflammatory disease is number three in frequency. This refers to cats with stomatitis or inflammatory bowel disease. In this disease genetic mutations have not been found but “liability genes” have been found in people and the German shepherd dog. It is suspected the same genes are present in cats. In this condition there are environmental variables that include diet and stress. When subjected to a provocative diet or stress only cats with the tendency will exhibit disease. Further cats with this condition have a lifelong propensity.

Polycystic Kidney Disease is the most common single-gene feline disorder seen in veterinary practice. It is caused by an autosomal dominant gene for which there is a genetic test available. 38% of all Persian cats have the defective gene. Unfortunately most of the cats develop kidney failure around the age of 7 years. If considering a Persian kitten the parents should have negative genetic testing prior to purchase. Ultrasound of the kidneys is useful but no longer the standard of care in screening for Polycystic Kidney Disease.

Number five in the top five most common inherited feline diseases is the all to common Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). 33% of Maine Coon cats and 20% of Ragdoll cats carry a gene mutation that affects the heart muscle. Many of these cats will die prematurely as early as 7 months of age. A genetic test is available for both these breeds. HCM also occurs in random-bred cats and individual cats of other breeds. The specific gene mutations in these cats are not identified at this time.

In time, treatment methods will be aimed at diseases on a genetic level. In the past ten years technology in veterinary medicine has changed hugely; but my sense is that in the next 10 years the change will be even greater. Understanding genetic mechanisms will open the door to greatly positive change in the treatment of these diseases.

Dr. Alan Main is the owner of West Suburban Veterinary Practice and his dedicated team have been providing services to the West Suburban Humane Society for over 10 years.

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