Nonprofit to the rescue: Lovable dog hit by car gets back surgery, needs home

New York Daily News
BY Amy Sacks

A speeing car may have knocked Kirby off her paws but it wasn’t enough to break the young dog’s spirit.

“She’s happy and she loves people,” said local rescuer Doug Halsey of Kirby, a 2-year-old mutt that landed at the NYC Animal Care & Control’s Manhattan shelter after being hit by a car in the Bronx in June.

The impact left Kirby unable to walk, a death sentence for most shelter animals since few rescue groups can help one with such a serious injury. But some big-hearted shelter volunteers fell in love with the pooch and sent out red-alert email pleas to save her.

“When we met her we could see they were right,” said Halsey, who runs Ready for Rescue, a nonprofit group that saves cats and dogs that would otherwise be euthanized at the city shelter.

“Despite extraordinary pain, she was sweet and gentle,” he said.

Halsey immediately committed to treating Kirby’s injuries and finding her a home.

Doctors at NYC Veterinary Specialists, a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week hospital on W. 55th St., determined she had a fractured back. However, the dog was able to feel her legs, a neurological sign that she could benefit from surgery.

“If there are no reflexes, then prognosis isn’t good,” said Dr. Mark Levy, a board certified veterinary surgeon, who inserted a Lubra plate to stabilize Kirby’s spine. “Every time she moved, it damaged her cord.”

Unlike a metal plate, the Lubra plate is made from a plastic derivative and doesn’t require screws.

Five days after surgery, Kirby moved her legs. She then started rehab at Water4Dogs, the city’s only indoor pool for dogs, in Chelsea, where she swam and did hydrotherapy.

Today, she’s is in no pain and walks well – with a bit of a funny gait – and remains in foster care while awaiting a new home.

While she’s still on the mend, Kirby will require followup visits; however, she has no additional medical needs, and will make a loving companion in a calm home where she’s not prone to rough play, Halsey said.

Some may question why one injured dog is worth saving when there are so many in need of rescue. After all, injuries like this are costly to treat.

Halsey, a Web designer by day, estimates he spent about $7,000, including CT scan, back surgery and hospitalization, plus boarding fees and rehabilitation.

And, like many of the city’s grassroots rescuers who rely strictly on donations, Halsey paid for most of it out of his own pocket, with help from a hospital discount, a few private donations and $500 from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals’ Picasso Fund.

Every year, about 43,000 cats and dogs land at the city shelter and about half are put down because of injury, lack of space or simply because there is no one to adopt them. A majority of the dogs that are euthanized are pit bulls.

“Rescuing animals from the shelter is an inexact process,” Halsey said, and in this case, a lack of available foster homes meant a hospital stay helped fit into the logistics. “There are thousands that need saving, and different circumstances will influence what animal we are able to rescue at a given time.”

To inquiry about adopting Kirby or make a donation, email or mail a check to: Ready For Rescue, 130 W. 16th St., No. 23, N.Y., N.Y. 10011.

For more info, go to

The group shows adoptable animals at The Pet Health Store at 440 Amsterdam Ave. (at 81st St.) in Manhattan on Sundays from noon to 4

This story was originally published August, 14, 2010, in the New York Daily News.