Basco’s hip healed from arthritis
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When Basco retired from military service, he was looking for a good new home and some relief from arthritis. He found both at the home of Debbie Richter of Medford, Oregon. (seen right with vet student Sandy Sadowitz and Dr. Wendy Baltzer)
The 7-year-old German shepherd had just completed two tours of duty in Baghdad, searching incoming vehicles for bombs.
Debbie Richter runs a physical fitness program and rescues homeless pets. “Too many dogs are getting put down in shelters,” she said.
But this was the first time she’d adopted a military dog. “I didn’t know what to expect. I had never adopted a bomb-sniffing dog before.”
What she learned, after adopting him, was that Basco was suffering from osteo-arthritis and rapidly becoming crippled.
The pain from bones grinding against each other in their hips soon destroys their ability to move, and for dogs with this condition, their chances of being adopted are low.
“He’s such a happy, sweet dog and he’s really funny,” Richter said. “He’s always trying to tease me to get me to play with him.”
But it was obvious that Basco was in pain. “My vet checked him out and found that the ball of his femur was nearly flat.”
Like humans, some dogs with serious arthritis are candidates for hip replacement surgery, but for a 7-year-old dog, the prospects of relief are iffy.
Researching other alternatives, Richter came across MediVet America, a company that specializes in animal stem cell research. They offered to cover the cost of stem-cell surgery for Basco. Richter talked with Oregon State University veterinarian Dr. Wendy Baltzer, who consulted with doctors from MediVet and then agreed to do the surgery.
The procedure involves removing fat tissue from the dog, then separating the stem cells in a centrifuge, activating them under an LED light, and then injecting them into the dog’s hip, where they will take on the properties of the nearby cells.
In Basco’s case, the stem cells would turn into cartilage that would make it easier for him to walk again.
Basco came through the procedure just fine and needed to spend a month resting quietly while the cells grew.
Richter is delighted with the results so far. “He doesn’t act like he’s seven; he acts like a two-year-old puppy,” she said.
What do you say? Do you know any animals who have had stem cell therapy? How did it go? Let us know in a comment below or on Facebook.
What you can do: Watch a local TV news video about Basco here.