New leash on life

Months of fundraising and veterinary visits led Amy Bilicki and her four-legged companion, Sheldon, to Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Krystle Wagner
Mar 13, 2013

 

After X-rays and other tests, the Grand Haven woman learned the 18-month-old golden retriever could live a better life if he has one hip replaced — instead of both hips, as Bilicki had feared.

Although the sweet-natured puppy has hip dysplasia in both hips, the MSU veterinarian recommended Sheldon would only need his left hip replaced in order to lead a full life.

Bilicki welcomed the news, but still worried the family wouldn’t have enough money to cover the cost of the surgery, which is about $4,500. The earlier estimates for the surgery on two hips were between $9,000 and $10,000.

The community has donated $3,300 for Sheldon's medical needs. For the rest, Bilicki learned that Sheldon has qualified for MSU’s Lucky Fund, which helps pet owners needing financial assistance.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was crying.”

In February, the community rallied around the puppy for a fundraiser to help with his medical costs. Bilicki said a friend’s daughter went door to door with a jar and Sheldon’s story to collect money, and also donated some of her birthday money to the cause.

“It blows my mind that people were so generous and giving,” Bilicki said.

Bilicki learned late last year that the then-year-old pup needed a foster home after his former family had asked that the dog be euthanized because of his hip problems. She ended up adopting Sheldon and brought him home on New Year's Eve.

Sheldon’s surgery hasn’t been scheduled yet, but Bilicki said she hopes it will take place in early April so he can recover and still enjoy part of the upcoming summer. For now, Sheldon is under restrictions to limit the time he spends walking, using stairs or running. His pain is controlled through medication.

Dr. Casey Nash, Sheldon’s local veterinarian at the Grand Haven Animal Hospital, said the surgery will be a good thing for his patient.

“I don’t think he’ll be in as much pain (after it),” Nash said.

Bilicki said she is thankful for the community in supporting her family and Sheldon, and it has restored her faith in humanity. She plans to have Sheldon become a therapy dog to help others and give back.

“He’s definitely destined for something great,” she said.

 

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