Heart to Heart

Category: Winter 2017 160 0

How a rescue dog became an animal ambassador

Dr. Mitchell gives Princess a post-op checkup.

Princess, an American Eskimo puppy, was born with a rare heart condition. The birth defect, which was discovered while she was in the care of San Diego Humane Society, interfered with her heart’s ability to pump blood. Her survival depended on an expensive surgery that required a specialist. It’s rare for an animal shelter to fund such a costly procedure, but SDHS got Princess the lifesaving surgery she needed—showing the lengths the agency will go to in pursuit of its mission to end the euthanasia of treatable animals in our community.

“It was critical that she receive this specialized surgery as quickly as possible, so we reached out to Dr. Sharon Huston, a cardiologist at VCA Animal Hospitals, to get Princess the care she desperately needed,” says Cynthia Mitchell, DVM, medical director for SDHS. “It’s only through support from the community that Princess has received this second chance at life.”

Cynthia Royal with Princess.

Princess’ surgery was successful, and while she recovered, SDHS sought a new home for her. But not just anyone could adopt Princess—she required special care. Cynthia Royal, an animal behaviorist and trainer for screen and stage, saw Princess’ story on the news one evening. As fate would have it, Royal had also previously undergone heart surgery, because of a near-lethal bacterial infection. She felt connected to Princess and completed the thorough adoption application.

After submitting the application and waiting, her hope of adopting the dog started to fade. Then the call came: She’d made it to the top of a long list of potential adopters.

Early the next day, she and her family made the trek from their ranch in Fallbrook to SDHS’s San Diego Campus to pick up the pup. When Princess came into the room, she made a beeline for Royal and leapt right into her arms. Princess now spends every minute by Royal’s side and is training as a service dog.


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