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Lab is unlikely hero to dachshund -- and her owners

Managing editor

Many pets are considered members of the family — we care for them, spend time with them, and love them.

Jerzee, a 3-year-old miniature dachshund, was inquisitive about everything — until curiosity nearly killed her.

Jerzee nearly died when she ate either a mouse that had been poisoned or the poison itself.

Regardless, she was one sick pup.

Owner Cristi Soyez of Cedar Point realized her beloved pet was ill Aug. 14, when the dog became lethargic, wanting to just lay around and not eat.

“On the morning of Aug. 17, I took Jerzee outside to go to the bathroom,” Soyez said. “She had no energy and could not stand on her own because she was so weak. She was passing blood through her stools.”

At that point, Soyez knew she had to get medical attention for her pet and took Jerzee to Animal Health Clinic of Marion County in Marion. Veterinarian Rebecca Irwin examined the dog and made the assessment.

“Jerzee had white gums, was weak, and her body temperature was cold,” Irwin said.

She knew the dog had ingested poison and was bleeding internally. The poison caused the animal to hemorrhage, (with blood already in Jerzee’s gut and passing through her rectum). Untreated, the internal bleeding would have spread to the dog’s chest and lungs, causing certain death.

“The antidote for rat poison is Vitamin K,” Irwin said, which causes the blood to clot.

In the meantime, the dog needed blood to survive.

A transfusion was necessary.

So, where do veterinarians obtain blood?

In this case, Irwin and the office staff sifted through clinic records to find a suitable donor — a large, young, healthy dog that was not on any medications and could lie still for a couple of hours.

Canines have DNA with blood types, similar to humans.

“In this case, blood matching wasn’t necessary,” Irwin said.

The perfect donor was a 4-year-old, 85-pound, chocolate Labrador retriever, owned by Chris and Kathy Meierhoff of Marion.

A call to Chris Meierhoff resulted in the family’s agreement to bring in their dog, Ginger, to provide a blood donation.

“Chris called me and asked me what I thought and there was no hesitation on our part to do it,” Kathy Meierhoff said.

“Ginger had the perfect temperament,” Irwin said, and was the perfect patient.

The procedure was conducted that morning. A needle was poked into Ginger’s front leg. Blood was drained from the animal and transported through tubing to a plastic bag, much like human blood donations. The blood was mixed with an anti-coagulant.

Ginger had to lie still for 90 minutes —the amount of time it took to draw a half-pint of blood. That in itself was an incredible feat for a typically hyperactive breed of dog.

Jerzee received the transfusion in the afternoon — administered to her slowly.

The transfusion was necessary because, even with the antidote, it takes a canine 120 days to produce red blood cells — much too long for the dachshund to survive on what little blood she had left in her system.

She remained in the animal clinic for two days and then was allowed to go home.

“There’s no doubt that Jerzee was a very sick dog when she came in,” Irwin said. “She wouldn’t have survived another 12 hours. The transfusion saved her life.”

Irwin said the animal clinic uses blood transfusions as a means to treat sick animals every few years.

It will take a while for Jerzee to recover but all are anticipating she will return to her old self.

“Jerzee is very important to me,” Soyez said. “She is so good natured with the grandkids. She is a very important part of my life, giving me unconditional love.”

The energetic dachshund herds the goats and lets the family know if there is something wrong. She’s a part of the household.

“There would be a big void if she were to be gone,” Soyez said.

 “We’re so glad it worked out the way it did,” Meierhoff said.

The Meierhoffs and the Soyezes were acquaintances, but now they are good friends since the incident occurred.

“The Soyezes have been so thankful,” Meierhoff said. “They even sent cards to Ginger.”

Meierhoffs also sent a get-well card to Jerzee and have communicated many times via Facebook.

“We did what any other dog owner would have done,” Meierhoff said. “It was the right thing to do.”

“So, when you see a 15-pound dog in Cedar Point, pointing out birds and retrieving, that is Jerzee — part doxie and part Labrador,” Soyez said. “This just goes to show that blood donors come in all shapes, sizes, and species.”

Last modified Sept. 9, 2009

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