Keeping Families Together: Sherry and Moki

It was just a few days before Christmas, and Austin resident Sherry N. was concerned about her young dog, Moki. Moki had stopped eating, was not acting like himself, and seemed to be losing weight. He had a history of playing with socks, and Sherry was afraid that maybe he had eaten one. Worried, she made an appointment with her veterinarian, Dr. John Unflat of Barton Creek Animal Clinic. 

When Dr. Unflat first saw Moki he could tell immediately that the young dog was in pain. Moki presented with a hunched back, painful abdomen, and firm, ropey intestines. During the physical exam, Dr. Unflat felt a likely obstruction and suggested that they X-ray Moki. The radiographs showed a foreign body and confirmed his suspicion that Moki likely had an obstruction. At that point, Dr. Unflat suggested that they consult a radiologist to see if perhaps Moki could pass the obstruction with medical therapy. After receiving the estimate, Dr. Unflat said that Sherry got quiet and said she had to call her husband. She could not afford the specialist review or all of the care Moki would require, let alone surgery if he was unable to pass the obstruction. Rather than prolong his suffering, she requested that they euthanize Moki. 

“I could feel and hear the heaviness of her heart. I know her family has multiple children,” Dr. Unflat said. “I told her I would pay for the specialist review and we would start him on IVF whether she could pay or not.”  

Dr. Unflat knew that TVMF offered grants to help Texas Veterinary Medical Association members extend their charitable care for their clients. “Moki is a good dog,” he said, and he was not comfortable euthanizing Moki when he knew that the dog had a good prognosis with appropriate therapy. Sherry and her husband have five children, and Moki is an important member of the family. 

When the radiologist confirmed that Moki would need surgery, Dr. Unflat applied for a Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grant to cover the cost of Moki’s care. Due to the urgent nature of the case, the TVMF Grants Committee expedited the review process and was happy to approve the grant. Dr. Unflat performed surgery on Moki and removed a “big, long, smelly sock” from his intestine. “It would have killed him without help,” Dr. Unflat said. “Thank you.”