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Asuna the Underdog Gets Back on All Fours

Jul 07,2021
Three-month-old Asuna arrived for care at the Atlanta Humane Society suffering from a severely broken leg. Thanks to a long-standing partnership, VCA Animal Hospital veterinarians stepped up to save the pup’s leg and give her a second chance at a forever family.
Three-month-old Asuna-the-puppy arrived for care at the Atlanta Humane Society suffering from a severely broken leg. Thanks to a long-standing partnership, VCA Animal Hospital veterinarians stepped up to provide surgery to save the pup’s leg. 

“Asuna was transferred to our facility from animal services in the Metro Atlanta area with a medical issue,” says Christina Hill, associate vice president of marketing and communications at the Atlanta Humane Society. “She could have been a stray who was found on the streets, we just don’t know. But an x-ray determined that she had a fractured leg that required surgery in order for her to walk normally again.”

VCA partnership continues to provide support 

As it has for the last 13 years, VCA supports the Atlanta Humane Society as a foundational partner. It gives pet adopters VCA Healthy Start Certificates for complimentary veterinary care within 14 days of the adoption to establish a care relationship—and to give the adopters peace of mind. VCA also supports the organization’s fundraising events. 

“When Asuna came to us in need of orthopedic surgery, we brought her to VCA Roswell Animal Hospital located in Roswell, Georgia, just north of Atlanta,” says Christina. “This was the first time we partnered with VCA for a surgery, working together in a wonderful way. It’s so great for the Atlanta Humane Society to have this partnership for animals in need of specialized care.”

Asuna was diagnosed at the hospital as a three-legged lame-she was using her injured leg only 75 percent of the time. “The surgery to address her injury was tedious, as the fracture was very old and the muscles around her fracture were extremely tight,” says Matthew Roper, DVM, area medical director at VCA Roswell Animal Hospital who performed the surgery on Asuna. “I had to loosen and extend the muscles first to allow me to put the bone fragments into normal positioning. Then I put a bone screw and pin in place to hold the fractured pieces. The surgery went well.” 

Recuperation in foster care

Her recovery, however, was slow due to the fact that she’s a very active dog and didn’t want to use her injured leg because she was so accustomed to not using it to walk.

“Her recovery is ongoing,” says Dr. Roper. “We’re working on techniques to build the muscle around the fracture so she can walk normally again. I think her prognosis is good. She’s a very happy, excited and loving dog who soaks up all the attention she can get.” 

After surgery, Asuna returned for care at the Atlanta Humane Society and she lived with a foster care volunteer for six weeks. She needed to be crated during this recovery time for rest with enrichment. 

Part of her post-surgical care included several veterinary appointments to check her progress. And just three weeks post-surgery, Asuna was strong enough to join a family to love her.
 
Puppy with tilted head
Those irresistible crossed ears

The Atlanta Humane Society hosted a pop-up adoption event at the time Asuna was well enough for adoption. 

“I decided I wanted a puppy so my 18-month-old dog Liam would have a dog to play with and a companion,” shares JaMia Lawrence who lives in Braselton, Georgia, located northeast of Atlanta.

She arrived early at the Atlanta Humane Society the day of the adoption event and waited in line. But by the time it was JaMia’s turn to look at the dogs, she was told there were no puppies left to adopt. “Then a staff member told me about a puppy who had a leg issue so no one was interested in adopting her,” explains JaMia. “When I first saw her, I noticed that her ears were crossed—she was so cute, sweet and loving—and she was so excited to see me! I said to myself, ‘She’s the one.’ She was the underdog at this event and I knew I had to have her – it’s official.” 

While the Kentucky Humane Society gave her the name Asuna, JaMia tried it out but she noticed that the pup didn’t really respond to the name, so she decided to rename her Nova. “Nova means a bright star that has dialed down to a normal state,” says JaMia. “And that fits her perfectly. She gets excited and then calms down easily. I think she’s mostly a German Shepard with some Great Dane. She doubled in size in the first month we had her!”

JaMia’s other dog, Liam, is a hound mix. When Nova first arrived at their house, he was very confused. He was used to being the baby and getting all the attention. “At first he growled at her—he’s very verbal,” shares JaMia. “After the third day, Nova barked at him, which was the first time I heard her bark and Liam was so surprised! Nova now gives him lots of kisses. Liam checks on her in the crate. We still have to be careful because her leg is still healing, so they can’t play together like they’d wish right now.”

Building muscle so she can run free

After a recent visit to VCA Roswell Animal Hospital to check on Nova’s progress, it was determined that she has 25 to 35 percent range of motion in the fractured leg. She’s still healing and the bone is still growing. They hope to gain more range of motion but it may not happen. 

“The vet encouraged me to walk Nova on concrete and to walk her up hills because that will force her to use her leg to climb so it builds muscle,” explains JaMia. “She needs to be more secure before we can let her run. While she’s gained some muscle, she needs to gain more, but they expect her to make a full recovery.” 

JaMia says it feels so good to have adopted Nova! “She’s not bothered by her leg at all at 5 months old. She gets so excited whenever anyone comes over—because she’s sure everyone’s here to see her!”
 
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"When I first saw her, I noticed that her ears were crossed—she was so cute, sweet and loving—and she was so excited to see me! I said to myself, ‘She’s the one.’ She was the underdog at this event and I knew I had to have her – it’s official."
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