Clinic Stories

A Diamond in the Ruff

Dogs, and sometimes other animals, will eat anything. Veterinary literature often contains dramatic X-rays of dogs who swallow 12” knives (always handle first) or light bulbs that make it to the stomach whole. I have seen my share of socks and corn cobs on the inside. Two cases stand out above the others.

A client had a few chickens left over from a 4H project. Having no ring finger, one of the chickens decided to swallow a diamond ring, a family heirloom that was foolishly left out. An X ray confirmed that the ring was in the chicken. Allowing it to pass was not a good option. Chickens have pebbles in their gizzards that make it a grinding mill and the ring would likely be damaged before it passed. I gave an estimate for surgery, but let’s just say the owners decided to take the chicken home to remove the ring.

I do not know the complete story of the other case. My wife came out of an exam room and told me, “I don’t know what’s up with this guy but I don’t trust him. Can you get rid of him?” The owner, from Jersey City, had a thin 50 pound Pit Bull dog with an IV catheter and an E collar. “My dog swallowed a leash and collar and needs surgery” he said. Although he did not have the films and wouldn’t say where they were taken, another veterinarian had taken X rays that showed a leash attached to a collar in the dog’s stomach. Somewhat suspicious, I confirmed that indeed there was a leash and collar inside the dog. Based on the sketchy history and the dog’s poor condition, it had been there for about a week. I made an estimate for surgery with several days of hospitalization that I expected would be beyond his willingness to pay. Instead, he came back within an hour with 100% cash payment up front.

At surgery, the nylon was already dissolving from the stomach acids. Although the dog recovered from surgery he died the next day. A refund was given for the unutilized services, but the owner was more interested in retrieving the leash and collar. “I need to show this to my brother. He said it’s impossible for a dog to eat a leash and collar.” Bragging rights are valuable.

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