Guide dog dragged by skytrain sustains severe injuries

3D reconstruction of her skull - arrows indicate some of the fracturesAuthored by Dr Laurence Braun

Authored by Dr Laurence Braun

Palm, a blind woman’s guide dog, was involved in a tragic accident last Thursday. When she was suddenly caught by the automatic closing door,  Palm was dragged by the Skytrain to the end of a station, striking a pole.

Fortunately, a staff member from Burquitlam Animal Hospital happened to be near and took the dog and her owner to the hospital where she works.  The doctor there quickly evaluated Palm, gave her emergency treatment and referred her to Canada West Veterinary Specialists for further surgery and specialized care.

Palm had suffered multiple, severe injuries: immediately apparent were two large lacerations, several bone fractures and breathing difficulties.  More subtle, she seemed disoriented and her pupils were not the same size – a sign of head trauma.

As time passed, she became unable to breathe well on her own; we inserted a tube down her throat to assist her respirations for several hours while she underwent diagnostic tests and surgery.

A CT scan showed the full extend of her injuries:  a crushing injury to most of her nose,her throat was swollen and had filled with clotted blood (from her broken nose). Several broken ribs very near her spine which most likely contributed to her pneumothorax (collapsed lung).  Additionally, Palm had a deep and extensive chest wound that was complicated by grease-covered flesh and exposed muscles.

Dr. Kuzma took Palm to surgery to repair the large chest wound.  Due to the severity of the injuries, the surgery was long and involved and Palm remained in a critical state for the first 48 hours and required intensive care.

Such a wound carries a higher risk of infection.  2 drains were placed and are under constant suction to prevent accumulation of fluid under the wound.  The fluid from the drain is analyzed daily to check for bacteria. Besides infection, we worry about whether the tissues remain healthy and whether the wound will heal without needing further interventions.

Palm seems to be recovering well now. She still needs a procedure to relieve the compression caused by the crushing injury to her nose.    Dr Kuzma closed the wounds on her nose (see the staples) but the damage underneath still needs to be addressed.

Today, she stood gingerly with some assistance and encouragement.

Daily doses of TLC from her family

It will be months until she can work again even if she continues to heal well.  We are still watching closely for further complications.

Amazingly, the roof of her mouth remained intact as well as her teeth.  She has been able to lick some gruel since last night and has kept it down.  She is truly a lab!