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Saved from the brink: Dachshund is home for the holidays after cardiac arrest

MACOMB, Mich. – You don’t have to be an expert veterinarian to know that when a dog’s heart stops beating, she might not survive.

But fortunately for Harley the dachshund, a team of experts from Veterinary General and BluePearl Veterinary Partners stepped in to help after she went into cardiac arrest.

Now, just days after her near-fatal experience, Harley is home for the holidays with her grateful family.

dachshund sitting on blanket

Harley recuperating at the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Macomb, Mich.

“Collectively, they saved her life,” said family member Terri Gocsik. “She’s just part of our family.  Thinking of life without her, it was just killing us all.”

“Harley suffered the almost-always fatal event of cardiac arrest and she is one of the very few patients who is able to walk out of the hospital and go home to her family,” said Dr. Nikki Verkest Werner of BluePearl. Werner said the skilled actions of Dr. Steven Barta of Veterinary General and follow-up care at BluePearl made the difference.

Harley lives with Gocsik and Michael Carbone, as well as Carbone’s three sons and another dachshund named Chopper. The family was out of town for a youth hockey game and the dogs were staying at a kennel.

The alert staff at the kennel noticed Harley was ill and seemed to be laboring while breathing. They took her to Veterinary General.

The reasons for Harley’s initial illness are not known, but what is clear is that Barta and his colleagues took immediate action when the dog abruptly went into cardiac arrest.

Barta and staff began performing CPR on Harley, and put a tube with oxygen in her throat. They also hooked her up to a heart monitor. Because her body temperature was low, they surrounded her with warm water bottles and warm blankets right out of the dryer. She also was given IV fluids.

After several minutes of CPR, Harley’s heart began beating again. But Harley was not breathing on her own — she was getting air from the ventilation tube that had been placed in her throat.

During this time Barta spoke to Werner at BluePearl by telephone. It’s an example of the close partnership between the hospitals and the sophisticated treatment that can be provided when primary care veterinarians work closely with specialty animal hospitals such as BluePearl. “She offered some treatment suggestions that were awesome,” Barta said.

Barta believed Harley would need care at a location such as BluePearl’s Macomb hospital, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and employs specialists with years of advanced veterinary training. When Harley resumed breathing, she was transferred to BluePearl.

Harley stayed at the BluePearl hospital in Macomb from Dec. 19 to 22. She was given fluids and pain medication as the staff evaluated her progress around the clock. Eventually, Harley regained the ability to walk and to see. When her family visited and gave her some pepperoni-style dog treats, she happily nibbled them, which was a sign of progress.

Barta says it’s a great outcome, considering that “Harley was in critical shape and surely would have died without the combined efforts of us and BluePearl.”

He said he never hesitates to refer his patients to BluePearl, when that’s the appropriate move to make. “The bottom line is it’s about what’s best for the patient.”