By Savannah Verdon, RedRover Development and Engagement Coordinator

When Anna adopted Banner in March of 2020, she had no idea her little 13-lb fuzzball would grow to over 100 lbs in nine short months. All 100 lbs were full of love – they cuddled in bed every night and explored the natural beauty of Montana together as often as they could. She even took him to weekly dog training sessions to help him successfully navigate the human world.

“I consider Banner to be my family and that my responsibility to him is the same as it would be to a child. He has spent every day with me since I adopted him last March. I love him as my child and companion.”

When he was just six months old, Banner suddenly began to limp on both front legs. When it persisted past several days, Anna took him to a veterinarian who concluded that Banner was severely lame in both legs and referred Anna to an orthopedic specialist for a more specific diagnosis. 

The specialist determined that Banner had a fragmented coronoid process in both elbows, a hereditary form of elbow dysplasia prominent in both German Shepherds and Mastiffs, his two breeds. Anna was horrified to hear that many families choose to humanely euthanize their dogs when they receive this diagnosis, as the cost of the surgery is prohibitively expensive and a dog cannot live with the condition due to the pain and loss of mobility.

She wouldn’t let that be the case for Banner. He had so much life ahead of him with Anna, and he deserved to live without pain. The specialist recommended further observation and sent Banner home with twice-daily pain medication. After a summer spent wild and free in the woods of Montana, he was now limited to short walks on his leash.

Over several months, Anna took Banner back to the orthopedic specialist for repeated evaluations. She had transformed her home to be safe and comfortable for him, including rugs on the hardwood floors and ramps for the bed and couch. The costs were accumulating quickly, and surgery still loomed ahead of them. 


Anna’s hours at work had been substantially reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which qualified her for partial unemployment, but her claim had been delayed with no estimate for when it would be reviewed. She had gone months without income. While she had savings and an emergency fund, Banner’s visits to the specialist, the changes needed to her home, and regular expenses consumed what she had saved. She had anticipated the normal costs of owning a pet when she adopted him in March, but she could never have foreseen his diagnosis, nor the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

Finally, it reached the point where Banner’s surgery could no longer be delayed. Amidst applying for assistance from as many organizations as she could find and reaching out to friends and family for support, Anna was disappointed to learn that the orthopedic specialist could no longer perform Banner’s surgery. While she searched for another veterinarian who could perform the complicated surgery, she received a call with some good news: RedRover could help her with a RedRover Relief Urgent Care grant! 

 

Good things flowed from there. She was soon able to find a compassionate veterinarian closer to home, reducing her travel costs, plus several other organizations pledged to help with the cost of surgery. The day of Banner’s surgery arrived, and rather than worrying about how she would pay for it, Anna was able to focus on hopeful next steps: bringing him home and caring for him through his recovery.

After a successful surgery, Banner enjoyed his six-week recovery period under the watchful eye of Anna’s roommate’s cat. His soft tissue is healing, and he and Anna are slowly returning to the fun and active life they share together. Still just a baby, he will have many more pain-free years to spend with Anna.

We are grateful for your support and the Happy Tails you make possible! Thank you for helping RedRover bring hundreds of animals like Banner from crisis to care!

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