As a medical student, Brittani Lowe has seen a lot of blood and bones, but the West Virginian says the worst trauma she’s ever seen didn’t happen to a human in the hospital, but to her dog, Kiki. Just 27 days before the young Chihuahua’s first birthday, Kiki was ejected from an SUV during a partial rollover, and both her front and back left legs were crushed. Veterinarians recommended euthanasia, but Kiki’s family didn’t give up.
“We’re all just really attached to Kiki, especially my grandma,” Brittani explains. Although it was Brittani who originally brought Kiki home, her grandmother, Patty Lowe, fell in love with the little dog too. When things get busy for Brittani at medical school, Kiki loves spending some quality time with Grandma.
That was the case the night the Chevy Tahoe Patty was driving crashed in the rural community of Harts, West Virginia. While Brittani was getting ready for bed 50 miles away in the city of Huntington, Patty was crawling out of her SUV’s window to get to Kiki, who was bleeding in the middle of the road.
“She said as soon as she scooped Kiki up, she just stopped yelping immediately,” Brittani explains.
Brittani later learned her grandmother (who had herself suffered a concussion) then walked down the dark road to the nearest house with Kiki bleeding in her arms. Phone calls were made, and soon Brittani’s mother, Crissy Musick, was driving Patty and Kiki to Huntington to get veterinary care. Brittani’s mom called her en route.
“She said from what I can see, it looks like her front leg is completely torn off. I was just hysterical,” says Brittani. She immediately called Kiki’s vet in Huntington only to be told there was nothing the clinic could do for injuries so extensive.
“They said you guys need to take her to Charleston.”
When Brittani met up with her grandmother and mother at Kanawha Valley Animal Emergency Services in Charleston, she didn’t need to see Kiki to know things were bad.
“My grandma was covered in Kiki’s blood. It was all over her shirt, all over her pants,” she recalls.
“At this point, she still had not been to the hospital. She said she would not go until Kiki was taken care of.”
While veterinarians stabilized Kiki, Brittani convinced her grandmother to go with her to a nearby ER. Once her grandmother was hospitalized, Brittani returned to the animal clinic and was met with bad news. Kiki’s front leg definitely couldn’t be saved, and the back leg was questionable as well. Around midnight a vet discussed euthanasia with Brittani and her mom.
“We said, she’s survived so much. She made it through the wreck. We don’t want to give up on her.”
The vet explained Kiki’s only other option was extensive surgery at Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, so Brittani and her mom drove Kiki through the night to Columbus in the hopes of saving the dog’s back leg. The family was optimistic Kiki could still have a good life on three legs, but veterinarians warned her mobility would be nearly non-existent if she was left with only two and again recommended euthanasia.
The next day, Kiki’s front left leg was amputated and a steel plate was put in her back left leg.
Brittany and Crissy returned to West Virginia to pick up Patty from the hospital before driving back to Ohio. The three women spent their Thanksgiving in a hotel room, but despite their constant vigil, a black spot grew on Kiki’s foot post-surgery. Her tissue was necrotizing.
The family refused to discuss euthanasia, deciding instead to amputate the back leg and help Kiki learn to live on just her right legs. Her doctors expected Kiki wouldn’t move much at all for about two-weeks post surgery, but Brittani says just three days after arriving home, the little dog had a big surprise for everyone.
“My grandma called me at the hospital and said, you’ll never guess what Kiki did — she just ran down the hallway!”
On Christmas Eve 2016, Kiki celebrated her first birthday a little lopsided, but very loved. Brittani hopes Kiki’s story will encourage developments in canine prosthetics, and encourage families to consider other options beyond euthanasia.