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Puppy recovering after being struck by ambulance

Tawnya Panizzi

SHARPSBURG: While racing to help a patient in Etna, the ambulance crew at Seneca Area EMS inadvertently created a second one.

Jesse, a black Labrador-mix puppy, darted in front of the ambulance on Sept. 8 near the 1800 block of Main Street. A back tire rolled over her hind quarters and she sustained a broken femur and fractured pelvis.

That Jesse is the company’s most unusual patient didn’t impede her care. She was paid the same attention — down to a morphine patch to ease her pain — given by Seneca to any human patient. In fact, the ambulance service is taking a bite out of its budget to pay the $3,000 medical bill accrued by the pup.

“The family can’t pay,” said Seneca Director Tony Cuda. “What are you gonna do• We had to help her.”

Cuda is looking for community support to lessen the impact on the emergency service budget which, he said, already is tight. If that fails, Cuda said the expense is one worth the struggle. He said the family would not have been able to afford the care and that they were appreciative of the help. Cuda would not release the name of the family and they could not be reached for comment.

Cuda — who owns four Labradors — said there was never a hesitation to try and save the puppy, who apparently managed to get loose from her yard nearby. She was walking unleashed along the sidewalk before running into the street.

“The ambulance was coming down Main Street when a car yielded to let it by and that scared the dog,” said Brian Dankis, paramedic assistant director. “She just ran right out in front of it.”

Dankis, at the Seneca station nearby, arrived in minutes to tend to Jesse who still was laying in the street, shocked and bleeding from her injuries. Sharpsburg police assisted Seneca in transporting the dog to the Middle Road Veterinary Clinic where she was checked and stabilized. Her injuries were too severe to be cared for there, Cuda said.

Over the next day, the dog was transported first to the Veterinary Emergency Clinic on Butler Street in Shaler, which required payment up-front before operating on the dog.

“We couldn’t do that because we’re a business,” Dankis said. “We could only get them a check during business hours.”

So Jesse was moved again, this time to VCA Castle Shannon Veterinary Hospital where she underwent surgery to mend her broken bones.

Cuda said the Castle Shannon facility was able to most quickly treat Jesse.

“They weren’t the closest, but they were the most available,” he said.

On Friday, a heavily sedated Jesse returned home via Seneca ambulance from her three-day hospital stay. Dankis, Cuda and paramedic Mary Kovac cooed over the weary dog as if it were a newborn baby coming home, and, though groggy from her experience, Jesse seemed content to lay back and accept the attention.

“She’s so sweet,” Dankis said, petting the dog. “Even when she was hurt, she never snapped at us.”

Additional Information:

To Donate

Anyone interested in donating to Jesse’s care can send a check payable to Seneca Area EMS, 1885 Main St., Sharpsburg, PA, 15215, or call 412-781-8596.


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