Copper, a 4-year-old basset hound, is one tough boy. About a month ago, he lost the use of his hind legs after he was left tied up in the backyard of a home in the Tri-Cities for an undetermined amount of time.
He apparently howled his discontent at the neglect for so long that his owners decided to surrender him to a Pet Over Population Prevention volunteer, said director Molli Van Dorn.
"Before POPP rescued him, Copper had been tied to a tree, soaked in his own urine, which had also burned him," Van Dorn said. "When he lost the use of his hind legs he could hardly move, and like most basset hounds he howled because he was in pain. That's when the owners finally allowed him to be rescued."
Copper suffers from intervertebral disc disease, a spinal condition causing pain, nerve damage and even paralysis.
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He was first taken to the VCA Animal Medical Center in Richland for treatment, then shuttled to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, where Dr. Stephanie Thomovsky and her staff are now caring for him.
He underwent an MRI at WSU and Thomovsky discovered he had a ruptured disc, so surgery was performed Feb. 11. But Copper's well-being was still in jeopardy.
"He reherniated the disc and there was significant hemorrhaging," Thomovsky told the Herald. "We went back into surgery and removed an enormous blood clot."
Copper required daily pain medication to keep him comfortable. The following days showed a slow progress in his recovery.
"He is still paralyzed but can feel his toes," Thomovsky said. "When dogs can feel their toes after disc surgery, even when paralyzed, there is an 80 to 85 percent chance of functional recovery."
On Friday, Copper had another successful day at WSU.
"In the underwater treadmill, he is obviously moving and trying to advance both back legs," she said. "It was a huge day for Copper."
Van Dorn hopes to find a new home for Copper once his therapy is complete. He'll need special care so his new owners will need to be prepared for that, she said.
Copper's medical bill could run as much as $8,000, and POPP is hopeful the community will donate toward his care, Van Dorn said.
Donations can be made at the POPP website at www.petoverpopulationprevention.org. There's a special button specifically for Copper's care.
The nonprofit animal rescue agency also accepts checks, which can be sent to POPP, P.O. Box 422, Pasco, WA 99301.
Those wishing to make donations to POPP meant just for Copper should write his name on the memo line of the check, Van Dorn said.
"Copper's surgery and rehab at WSU will give him the opportunity to be whole again," she added. "Through all he's been through, he remains a happy boy, even when he's in pain."
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com; Twitter: @dorioneal