Gone before we could write her a happier ending

Posted in Medical, Memorials, Uncategorized at 10:11 am by ACR&S

On August 12, we got an email requesting us to take in a sick pig:

I’m desperate! I have a sick guinea pig and I will be leaving to go out of town on Thursday for a wedding that my daughter is in. I don’t know what to do as I had planned on leaving the pig with a neighbor but I now feel that she needs more care than an inexperinced person. I do not have the time or resources to take her to a vet. I suspect a possible jaw malocclusion as she tries to eat but cannot seem to chew. She has diarhea and is losing weight. I really just noticed today how sick she is.
Can you or do you know of anyone who can help? I don’t want to put her down.

Normally, we don’t take owner surrenders, and this attitude is exactly the reason why. If your pig is sick and you cannot afford medical care, euthanasia is the only humane choice. But this person was seeking to absolve themselves of responsibility by dumping their problems on someone else. By helping them, we reinforce that this is acceptable behavior, rather than making them deal with the consequences of their choices. But my NC coordinators both badly wanted to take this poor piggy in, so I agreed.

My Charlotte coordinator Andrea went to get the piggy, named Trixie, from the owner. This horrible person was not even willing to donate even a DOLLAR to help cover vet care costs. Why? Because she had just spent $1,000 on her horse, and her daughter was in this wedding and had to buy a dress, and they both had to fly out, and it was all SO expensive.

Incidentally, she was only feeding the pig the cheapest, seed-filled, Walmart-brand pellets, and baby cereal (unacceptable under any circumstances).

Trixie seemed to have a raging upper respiratory infection. We took her to the vet on August 13th and got Baytril and a general physical exam, which showed no problems with her teeth. Andrea syringe fed her, gave her subcues, and there seemed to be improvement over the next day or so. She was even eating hay and drinking a little water on her own. Then on August 15 she took a turn for the worse. Andrea put her on the floor for playtime and Trixie completely freaked out, hobbling and trembling and doing weird little jumps. It was like a seizure but it wasn’t steady, it was like a popcorn only she squealed each time, like she was in pain. It was anywhere from a few seconds to a whole minute or two in between each one. Eventually these subsided and she seemed calm again. But Andrea knew Trixie definitely had something wrong with her joints and her shoulders/legs, and needed an X-ray to diagnose.

First thing the next morning, Andrea got Trixie in with Dr. Lauren Powers, who is one of the best exotics vets in NC. They did the X-rays and the findings were unbelievable: Trixie had almost no bones left. Every bone in her body was degraded, showing a swiss-cheese pattern similar to the calcium-leeching disease osteodystrophy. Only Trixie was not a satin. Our regular vet in Cary reviewed the X-rays and asked if she had been starved. Presumably, her condition was caused by terrible malnutrition. As is common in OD, her bones and joints were probably causing her tremendous pain, to the point where it hurt even to eat.

All of us were in shock (including both vets). Andrea dosed her up with pain meds, but we finally decided she would probably need to be euthanized. There are a few reports of OD being reversed through calcium supplementation, but given the extent of the the damage, and the amount of pain she was already displaying, we didn’t think we could give her a reasonable quality of life long enough to reverse the bone damage. We decided to wait till Monday in case our vets or anyone on GL came up with any better ideas.

On August 17, Trixie chose her own ending. Andrea found her dead in her cage around 4pm EST.

I’m so sorry, Trixie. I’m sorry your former owner was so heartless as to starve you to death because you weren’t worth spending money on. I’m sorry that three vets, $200 in diagnostics and medications, and all of our tears and anguish over the last five days weren’t enough to save you and give you a chance at a better life. I hope you find peace, comfort, and plenty of good food as the newest member of Death’s herd. You will find many new friends waiting for you there as well.


  1. Sarah said,

    August 22, 2008 at 9:53 am

    That’s such a sad story.

    I hope that woman has had her fill of pets and doesn’t ever get the chance to hurt another one.

    Are you going to contact her to tell her what was wrong with Trixie?

  2. Andrea said,

    August 22, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Unfortunately she has other pets whom she had spent thousands on, which is why she said she didn’t have the money for Trixie.

    Yes I kept her informed throughout. I let her know about the x-rays and later emailed to tell her that Trixie had died.

  3. romantic anniversary said,

    April 11, 2015 at 12:12 am

    romantic anniversary

    Searching for happy endings » Gone before we could write her a happier ending