Cricket’s Heroes: Shelter Medicine Veterinarians

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When the San Francisco SPCA Shelter Medicine veterinarians get to work each day, it’s with a tireless spirit and a dedication to saving lives. This is part of what makes them such valuable assets to our medical team. And when animals like one-year-old Cricket arrive in our shelter requiring above-and-beyond care, it’s what makes them heroes.

“Cricket had special needs that were beyond the scope of the average shelter patient,” said Dr. Orsolya Kuti, who was part of Cricket’s care team. “Her congenital abnormalities are rare and could not be treated with the equipment we had in house.”

This was because the young pit bull was born with front legs that bent inward at the joint, making it nearly impossible for her to walk.

“In addition to being examined by SF SPCA Shelter Medicine veterinarians, Cricket was assessed by a boarded surgeon as well as a boarded rehabilitation specialist in order to formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan,” explained Dr. Kuti.

When it came to getting Cricket the care she needed, the question was not if we could provide it, the question was how we would ensure it. Thanks to the support of generous donors, our veterinarians are able to provide the highest quality medical treatments, even in cases of tremendous need. For Cricket, that meant custom orthotic braces requiring months of preparation.

Part of Cricket’s treatment also required innovative problem-solving as she arrived just as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold of the world. She, along with all of the SF SPCA shelter animals, needed a safe foster home and she needed it in record time.

Fortunately, foster volunteer Alicia Walton was ready to open her heart and her home. For two months, Alicia worked with Cricket to prepare her for custom orthotics with fitting appointments as well as behavior and training sessions. They also spent time playing together while Cricket got accustomed to the booties that would soon be replaced by permanent braces.

“It was really fun to watch her grow and change in different ways throughout the first few months,” Alicia said. “To watch her grow and learn and experience new things was awesome. I think one of the most exciting things that happened while we were fostering was the first time she finally learned ‘shake.’ I wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to do it, but she figured it out. Now she’s a master shaker with both paws!”

By early May, Alicia decided to make Cricket part of her forever family. In the following weeks, Cricket not only learned to walk, but run and jump!

For the Shelter Medicine team, Cricket’s story is part of a collaborative success.

Dr. Kuti said, “The SF SPCA Shelter Medicine department has funding that allows us to pursue treatments that are beyond the budget of many shelters. Lots of people were involved in Cricket’s care. This treatment was the end result of countless hours of medical, behavioral, and foster team work.”

Alicia is also thrilled with Cricket’s progress.

“On the third day she had her braces, we went to visit some friends who have a pitty and that’s when she really ‘got it,’” said Alicia. “They were playing and running and you could tell she got to be a puppy for the first time ever. It was like she realized how much more she could do now than she could before her orthotics. Now she has more confidence and definitely likes to be the leader of the pack.”

Help Animals Like Cricket Find Homes for the Holidays
Donate today to support our life-saving work with homeless and injured animals. Now, more than ever, we look to our community as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure animals have the care they need. When you donate, it means the world to us. It means the world to them.

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