Life-saving surgery for NJ puppy

November 20, 2013

Ron Santangelo got concerned when he noticed his German Shepard puppy having trouble breathing.

"It was very apparent that he would go outside 10 minutes, and he was huffing and puffing," Ron Santangelo of Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey told Action News.

Six-month-old Weasley was diagnosed with pulmonic stenosis, a defect that causes one of the heart valves to not open properly. It puts a huge strain on the heart and could lead to a premature death.

"We just want them to get up and grow old and not have to worry about dropping dead suddenly," Santangelo said.

"Most of the dogs that are severe, typically they don't make it past around 5 or 6 years of age," said veterinarian Jonathan Goodwin, DVM, DACVIM.

With the help of Garden State Veterinary Specialists and Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey, Weasley underwent a surgery that's very common in humans but very rare in dogs.

"We try to come and actually open that valve with a special balloon - a balloon valvuloplasty - to allow more blood to flow through that valve," said Goodwin, a board-certified veterinary cardiologist.

This was the first time this surgery has been done at Saint Francis. In fact, less than 1% of animal hospitals in the country are equipped to do it. The cost of the procedure is upwards of $5,000 which makes it financially out of reach for most dog owners.

But the results?

Santangelo says they were immediate: "Non-stop energy from the time the anesthesia wore off. When we got him home, the next day he came out of it, and it was just non-stop constant energy."

Weasley is now a happy, healthy growing puppy and the subject of a new ad campaign promoting the ground-breaking work of Saint Francis.

"The prognosis has been thumbs up and ready to go," Santangelo said.

Saint Francis set up a fund to pay for Weasley's surgery. If you would like to donate, here's how you can contribute :


Text either "Weasley 10" to donate $10, "Weasley 50" to donate $50 or "Weasley 100" to donate $100 to the number 41444.

Any extra money generated will be donated to other animals in need.

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