Mochi’s Miracle: Eagle Dog Survives Near Drowning Accident

We have many WestVet stories that inspire us, but Mochi’s tale is one of our favorite. Mochi survived a near drowning accident after treatment at WestVet Emergency Vet hospitalA few weeks ago, just as summer was launching, Mochi, a Drahthaar mix, was outside with her owners, Chris and Kit; their daughter and son-in-law, Megan and Kevin; and two companion dogs. They were all enjoying a Sunday run in a rural area near Eagle along a familiar road the group had visited numerous times before. (Pictured right, left to right, Megan, Chris and Kit with Mochi at WestVet.)

The three dogs, ‘Mochi,’ ‘Ani’ and ‘Roxey’ could not resist the ditch filled with water and—as all had previously proven to be avid swimmers—Chris and Kit allowed the dogs to go for a swim. That’s when things went terribly wrong; here is Kit’s story:


“We were only five minutes from the car when disaster struck…after jumping in and out of the ditch, Ani and Roxey returned to us, but Mochi did not. We called her name, paged her collar, still no response. We were alarmed, as this behavior is very unlike Mochi, who is an obedient and eager-to-please dog.

Chris looked at the ditch and said, "She wouldn't be in there?" I ran to the left side/incoming culvert, Chris ran right, to the outgoing culvert. Miraculously, he saw her orange collar and lifeless body in the water. It seemed the culvert had sucked her in, and with no grate on the intake and no space to breathe while under the road, Mochi had been trapped.

Chris leapt into the water and scooped her up. On the opposite bank, I held Ani on the leash and began sending prayers up to God. WestVet provided Emergency Veterinary Medical Care on the weekend for a drowning accident.We had buried Mochi’s sister just four months ago after she was hit and killed on the road near our home. I felt I was reliving the nightmare of carrying her body back to the house. (Pictured right, Kit with Mochi and Nani as puppies.)

Megan and Kevin were immediately at Chris’s side performing CPR. He began compressions while the two of them began breathing for her. Mochi had a slight seizure, coughed a little, and began to come around. As the men were loading her into the car, Mochi was clearly struggling to breathe, choking, and bleeding, but alive.

I hopped in the back seat to hold her and phoned our family veterinarian. The answering message directed emergencies to WestVet. When we saw another vet hospital along our route, they also directed us to WestVet and even called ahead for our arrival. When we pulled up, staff members took Mochi right to the back and started working on her.”

Having suffered a near drowning, Mochi was in extremely critical condition. She was sedated, and given oxygen, but her condition was so severe that it required she be put on a ventilator. We were amazed and inspired by the love of the family and friends that came to our hospital to support Mochi and her people. She was continuously surrounded by love—something that certainly aided her recovery.

“It helped us to know that while we were at work, a family member had been with Mochi. When we visited, in part or as a whole family, she knew we were there, she felt our kisses, heard our familiar voices, knew we loved her, knew we were fighting for her and that she had to stay connected with us and fight for her life and come home to us,” Kit wrote to us.

Mochi remained on a ventilator for 48 hours. This allowed her lungs to slowly recover while stabilizing her oxygen level and breathing rate. She continued on oxygen therapy for two additional days, becoming stronger almost hourly. Four days after the accident, Mochi was released and returned home--just in time to celebrate Kit’s birthday.

Several components of Mochi’s journey were critical to her survival. First, Chris had the physical strength to pull an unconscious dog from under flowing water. He and Kit co-own the ATA Martial Arts Center & Karate for Kids in Eagle and he is in excellent shape. Second, everyone in the party was CPR-certified and able to assist Mochi with emergency breathing. Finally, they immediately pursued emergency veterinary care. In her condition, Mochi would not have survived without medical intervention.

Kit tells us that the one word that describes Mochi is “love,” she continued,

“[Mochi] filled the hole that was left in our heart when our dear Belle passed away.

She is sweet, sensitive, strong and loving.  Mochi has always loved to be close, snuggle, and will hop up on your lap and give kisses...especially if her sister is getting in trouble. She is protective, just days before the accident she came to us whining because her sister and gone through the collar/fence and was stuck on the other side and couldn't get back over.”

Kit concluded her email with this:

“I truly believe that God puts people in our path for a reason and I know that Mochi is so grateful for the staff at WestVet.  She knows they helped bring her back from heaven!  Words cannot express how thankful we are and how much we appreciate what the doctors and staff have done for our Mochi and for our family!”

This beloved dog and her sweet family continue to inspire us and we thank them for entrusting her care to us.

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Dr. Hazel Carney co-creates new Vet & Owner guidelines for Cat Litter Box Issues

For frustrated cat owners, it can be a common issue—your cat not using the litter box, and urinating and defecating in your home.Dr. Hazel Carney provides feline behavior medicine at WestVet in Garden City, Idaho There are new tools to address house-soiling cats, thanks, in part, to WestVet’s Dr. Hazel C. Carney, Feline Behaviorist, who collaborated with other feline specialists to develop the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) Guidelines for Diagnosing and Solving House-Soiling Behavior in Cats.

The new guidelines, released in June, report that numerous cats are abandoned and/or relinquished to shelters because of house-soiling behavior. Most importantly, this behavior is not due to spite or anger toward the owner. Instead, the behavior presents itself because the cat’s physical, social, or medical needs are not being met. The collaborative team behind the new guidelines is hopeful that these veterinary and owner tools will result in less feline euthanasia.

It’s all about the litter box and home environment. The panel determined that the size, availability, placement, type of litter and cleaning routine of your cat’s litter box, along with other environmental factors play a significant role in this behavior. The “five pillars” of a healthy feline environment include providing a safe retreat (perches or enclosures that allow cats to evade perceived potential threats); multiple, separate locations for food, water and litter boxes; opportunities for predatory play and feeding; regular human interaction; and an environment that respects a cat’s sense of smell (cats can be extremely sensitive to new odors and fragrances). In addition, the AAFP guidelines evaluate the medical problems associated with house-soiling behaviors to assist veterinarians in making an accurate diagnosis.

“Our hope is that by using these guidelines, veterinary practices will be able to more effectively, and confidently address cases of feline house-soiling,” said Hazel Carney, DVM, MS, DABVP, and AAFP Advisory Panel Co-Chair. “Success with these cases will improve the veterinary–client–patient relationships and overall feline welfare, while keeping cats in their homes with a good quality of life.”

Cat owners work together with their family veterinarian for individualized care. For you, as a cat owner, a questionnaire regarding your cat’s behavior is available; the answers will help your veterinarian assess your cat’s behavior in light of medical examination and the testing results. In addition, home care instructions that your veterinarian will individualize for your cat will provide practical guidance on the things that you can do to address house-soiling.

For veterinarians, both an algorithm and specific diagnostic suggestions help pinpoint the cause of the behavior. Information regarding specific treatments of the 4 basic causes of house-soiling as well as general management suggestions about the optimal litter box and meeting feline environmental needs will guide treatment recommendations. The paper also suggests logical steps to take if a frustrated cat owner is considering euthanasia.

Dr. Carney has been providing behavior and medical veterinary care to cats for the past twenty-five years. If you’re experiencing litter box aversion, house-soiling, or other anxious or difficult behaviors with your cat, she is available to assist you and can bring harmony back to your home with your cat. Please contact WestVet for appointment information, 208.375.1600.

 The AAFP/ISFM guidelines utilize scientifically documented information, and the combined feline veterinary clinical experiences of the authors: Tammy Sadek DVM, Dip ABVP (Feline), Terry Curtis DVM, MS, DACVB, Vicky Halls DipCouns, Sarah Heath, BVSc, DipECAWBM, CCAB, MRCVS, Pippa Hutchison, MSc, Dip(AS), CCAB, Kari Mundschenk, DVM, Jodi Westropp DVM, PhD, DACVIM.

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Pet Safety when Off Leash and near waterways from ER Vet Dr. Jennifer Pearson

Part of the fun of owning an active dog is being active with them, such as running, hiking the foothills, walking the greenbelt, etc. However, there are a few situations that pose a danger to pets when loose/not leashed. These are common veterinary emergencies that we treat regularly at our veterinary hospital. Dr. Jennifer Pearson, WestVet 24 Hour Animal Emergency Veterinarian

In today’s blog post, Dr. Jennifer Pearson, WestVet Emergency Veterinarian, shares her advice on helping keep pets safe when off leash and at play.

"The canals and ditches that meander throughout the Treasure Valley may contain bacteria and Giardia, if dogs drink that water, it will make them sick. WestVet is Idaho's only 24 Hour Animal Emergency & Specialty Veterinary Hospital Symptoms of ingestion include diarrhea and/or vomiting. Severe cases will require veterinary treatment and it could be transmitted to humans. Read more about Giardia HERE. 

Beyond that, canals and ditches pose the risk of drowning—even for dogs considered to be strong swimmers. I have treated dogs that were swimming when they were suddenly pulled under the current and experienced a near drowning accident. Treatment and recovery, when possible, require extensive medical care. It’s recommended to avoid these areas if possible.

Leashes serve as a protection for your dog. Even a compliant, obedient dog could suddenly run up to greet another dog who is aggressive, resulting in an attack. The biggest concern is for small dogs being bitten by larger dogs as they typically sustain the most injury. All dogs are unpredictable, even “nice” dogs can become aggressive around another dog if they feel territorial or threatened. The leash helps the owner keep the dog in control and safely away from unknown dogs. In addition, depending on the area, an unleashed pet could quickly dart into traffic and suffer vehicular trauma. Sadly, we have treated this type of accident at WestVet and seen dogs with extensive injuries."

Keep your pets safe when out and about enjoying a Treasure Valley summer day.

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Boise Internet Startup Gains National Attention With the Launch of Vet Specialist Awareness Campaign will be featured in national PBS documentary and Animal Planet PSA.

In previous blogs, we shared the story of Tinks and his amazing human, Karen Bostick, but his story just keeps getting better. Next week, the pair will be featured in an Animal Planet Public Service Announcement as part of a veterinary specialty awareness campaign, followed by a national PBS documentary sharing their story.

Tinks is near and dear to many WestVet team members after receiving treatment from Dr. Victoria Ochoa, Board Certified Veterinary Internist, for a rare immune disorder.

After Tinks' recovery, Bostick felt impassioned to educate pet caretakers about specialty care. First, she designed, created, and launched, an online “social pet community.” Described as the “world's fastest growing social network for pets,” enables pet lovers around the world to share pictures, socialize, and have fun. Now Bostick is launching a “Find-a-Vet Specialist directory,” this feature enables pet owners to find specialty veterinary services near their home—a first of its kind in the industry.

Similar to a human physician, a veterinary specialist has completed extensive training in one specific area of medicine. In addition to undergraduate studies, and four years of veterinary school, specialists have completed 3 -5 years of residency training followed by passing national and state certifying examinations. Veterinary specialists have knowledge of the unusual, uncommon, or rare diseases in small animals. 

WestVet offers the services of 13 board certified specialists to pets and their families in the Treasure Valley. We partner with area family veterinarians to offer the best veterinary care available. “As veterinary specialists, we strive to work as a team with referring family veterinarians,” said Dr. Jeff Brourman, WestVet CEO and Board Certified Small Animal Surgeon. “In my mind, this provides the best and most comprehensive care to pets and their owners.”

The PSA, slated to air on Animal Planet, Friday, July 25, between 6 – 10 PM EST, is part of Bostick’s nationwide veterinary specialty awareness campaign to educate the pet community about the important work that vet specialists do. Her goal is to empower pet owners to make informed decisions about the health and care of their pets.

Later this summer, the PBS documentary will share Tinks’ inspiring story—one that has become an internet sensation. currently has more than 600,000 social media followers, and that number is growing daily.

"I am thrilled to be able to shine a national spotlight on such an important cause," Bostick said. "Many pet owners are not aware that today, just like people, our beloved pets can have access to vet specialists like Oncologists, Internists and Dermatologists. With a specialist's help, people can make informed decisions that are right for their pets and seek second opinions, just as we might for ourselves."

The PSA and documentary, filmed in part at WestVet Specialty & Emergency Hospital, also features Dr. Victoria Ochoa, the internist who saved Tinks from an early demise.

"I'm happy to be a part of this campaign because it shows pet owners that they have a place they can turn to in order to learn more about vet specialists and how we can help their pets," says Dr. Ochoa. 

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Keeping Pets Safe During July 4th Fireworks

July 4th Pet Safety, Photo Credit:

July 4th is the fun summer holiday that families look forward to, but it can be a scary and confusing time for pets.

Earlier this week, the Idaho Humane Society (IHS) is reminding pet owners to take extra precautions during The Treasure Valley Independence Day firework celebrations. IHS reports that after the July 4th celebration, their shelter is “bursting” with pets. The same holds true for other area animal shelters—all are inundated with pets that have become frightened and run away. Some even become injured and require veterinary care. (photo credit: VVNG)

This is a summary of the precautions the IHS recommends:

  • Keep pets indoors. Pets will do best locked safely in the house when fireworks begin. Close windows and pull the blinds, consider crating him/her. A crate is a great place to keep them contained and secure. Don’t be tempted to take them with you to celebrations where crowds can add to their stress associated with the fireworks.
  • Keep them distracted. Leave on music, television, or fan to disguise some of the firework noise.
  • Offer a special treat. A new chewy or interactive toy will keep their attention focused on something fun, and away from the outside noise.
  • Keep pet identification current. Even with the best planning, pets can get loose. Your pet’s ID tags should include your most current contact information. Update the microchip information if you’ve moved or changed phone numbers since it was implanted.

What to do if your pet goes missing on the Fourth of July. The IHS shelter will be closed on the 4th of July except from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. when staff will be available to accept stray animals only.  The shelter opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 5th for owners searching for their lost pets. If your pet is missing, please visit the shelter immediately to look for your pet and file a lost report. Owners reclaiming stray pets at the Idaho Humane Society on July 5, 2014 through July 8, 2014 will have their pet redemption fees waived.  Owners whose dogs do not have their required current city or county licenses will need to purchase a license.

Stay safe, everyone!

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