Chasing a cat through bushes turned into a deadly adventure for Blue Heeler Kimber.

Thankfully, her owner Billy Ortwin brought her to the team at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, saving her life.

The trouble began when Billy noticed Kimber did not come for her morning meal the day after pursuing a cat. Billy says she would not put weight on her right front leg when he found her hiding.

X-rays performed by the VCA Emergency and Critical Care team showed her leg to be normal and soft tissue injury was suspected. Kimber was sent home for rest with pain prescriptions.

The next day, Kimber’s leg had swollen, and with no interest in food, she went back to the VCA where Critical Care and Surgery clinicians re-evaluated the suspected injury and found a small scratch on her leg.

“That was when the team realized she likely had a severe soft tissue infection, also referred to as necrotizing fasciitis,” says Dr. Brittany Hyde, a veterinary specialist in surgery at VCA West Los Angeles.

She was hospitalized for intensive care as she developed septic shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation, a very rare condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot and stop bleeding.

Billy says choosing to continue treating Kimber came down to one thing: “If she was fighting, I could not give up.”

Collaborative, Specialized Veterinary Care

It was a good thing Billy brought Kimber to the VCA West Los Angeles team, which has multiple specialists working together.

The critical care and surgical teams worked together to care for Kimber, from identifying the cause of the infection to the initial wound debridement and 10 days of subsequent wound care.

“Her wound was one of the most challenging I have worked with based on size and location,” says Dr. Hyde, adding care had to be switched for progressive healing.

Kimber’s treatment and recovery took a village, says Dr. Becca Walton, a veterinary specialist with a Hemodialysis Certification.

“What made Kimber’s case different was both her spirit and the dedication of her family,” she says.

After Kimber left VCA West Los Angeles, she returned for wound care and bandage changes for three months. When she finished care, the staff threw a party.

“The entire team agrees Kimber is the nicest Heeler we have ever met. Despite everything she went through, she wagged her tail, fought for her life and never got frustrated with us,” Dr. Walton says.

The feeling is mutual for Billy and his family and Kimber -- who turned four during her wound care -- is back to her old self.

“They were amazing at the VCA,” Billy says, adding that they allowed him and his family to visit whenever they needed to see Kimber. “It made us feel like family.”

When in Doubt, Seek Veterinary Care For Your Pet

Dr. Hyde says that lameness such as Kimber’s may not be an emergency, but paired with her other symptoms such as lethargy, hiding, not eating and her swelling, it was a sign to seek attention immediately. In this case, doing so saved Kimber’s life.

VCA’s advanced care teams include highly skilled veterinary specialists in multiple disciplines. Working as a team, they strive to give your pet the best care possible. Find a VCA hospital near you.