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Florida Veterinary Referral Center (FVRC)

Waffles' Story

Collage of Waffles wearing a tiger costume, his two back legs, and smiling in the car

Here in Southwest Florida, we are no strangers to natural disasters and the effect that they have on the animals in our community. Unfortunately, some of our neighbors to the north may not always feel that same sense of preparedness. That was certainly the case for one special patient, who visited us all the way from Georgia after surviving a tornado.

In early 2023, a series of devastating tornadoes wreaked havoc on a rural Georgia community, leaving a trail of homeless pets in their wake. Among these displaced animals was Waffles, a one-year-old Pit Bull Terrier, now lovingly known by that name, who found salvation in the arms of a compassionate rescuer. Waffles was subsequently brought to the Florida Veterinary Referral Center (FVRC) in Estero, where he would receive the long-overdue care he so desperately needed.

Upon his rescue, Waffles was burdened with Demodex and conjunctivitis, while his left hind leg bore the weight of an old, unhealed tibial fracture marked by significant remodeling.

His primary veterinarian wisely recommended a consultation with a specialist to assess the leg's condition further. Thus, Waffles embarked on a journey to meet Dr. Leonardo Baez, a board-certified surgeon at FVRC, who would evaluate and treat his ailment.

After an examination and review of radiographs, Dr. Baez diagnosed Waffles with a malunion stemming from a suspected Salter-Harris fracture of the distal growth plate, accompanied by a distal fibula fracture.

Furthermore, there was evidence of substantial bone callus and suspected synostosis of the tibia and fibula due to exuberant bone callus formation.

While an osteotomy or ostectomy could theoretically correct the malunion, the complex nature of the injury, with fragmented bone, posed considerable challenges for a ring fixator repair. The prognosis for complications over Waffles' lifetime loomed large.

Dr. Baez, in his professional judgment, recommended limb amputation as the course of action that would ensure Waffles' optimal quality of life.

Dr. Baez proceeded with the limb amputation surgery, and the remarkable resilience of Waffles became immediately apparent. With three limbs and an indomitable spirit, Waffles adapted seamlessly to his new reality.

Waffles' mom shared her thoughts on her experience with FVRC and Dr. Baez:

“I appreciated so much how honest and upfront Dr. Baez was from the very beginning, giving me all of my options, and talking through the risks of each so that I could make the best decision for Waffles. I never felt rushed or pressured and was able to get direct, informed answers for all of my questions. Thankfully I was able to get him in quickly for his consultation and surgery. We had a minor setback during his recovery post-op where there was some bleeding from his surgical site, but thankfully FVRC is open 24/7 and I was able to get his drainage tube put in even though Dr. Baez was not there at that time. It was so convenient, and the entire team was so compassionate and helpful throughout the entire experience. Waffles is living his best life thanks to Dr. Baez and the entire FVRC team!

No matter how far away or when disaster strikes, FVRC is here to help! Our emergency and critical care team has you covered 24/7/365.