for Excellence by a Veterinarian in the Treatment of
Canine Autoimmune/Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia
The winner of the 2009 Meisha’s Hope Award is Dr. Gregory Baer. Dr. Baer works out of the Hope Veterinary Clinic in Columbus, IN and was nominated for the Meisha’s Hope Award by Penny & Mark Hamilton. The Hamilton's nomination of Dr. Baer for the 2009 Meisha's Hope Award is reproduced below the photo of Dr. Baer and the Hamiltons.
Casper, Mark & Penny Hamilton with Dr. Gregory Baer
and his 2009 Meisha's Hope Award plaque
”May 14th, 2009...It was a day that began like any other. We woke early, to the sound of the alarm clock, ready to begin another busy day. As I turned over, after shutting off the alarm, I was greeted with a nice, big, wet, sloppy kiss, from Casper, our three year old Pit/Boxer mix. He was curled up in bed between us, where he sleeps every night. We first met our boy, when he was just 6 months old. At 12 weeks old, he had been found wandering the streets, scared and alone and was taken to our local Humane Society. It still breaks my heart to think of him out in the world on his own, because in addition to being so young at that time, Casper was completely deaf. We were told he was most likely ‘dumped’, because of his ‘handicap’. But from the moment we met him, we knew he was meant to be our ‘son’. We immediately applied to adopt Casper and he joined our family. The morning of May 14, we went about our daily routine, getting ready for work, and feeding Casper and his fur-brothers, Champ and Kato. Everything was completely normal. It wasn't until later that day, that our world would be turned upside down.
”I arrived home from work around 2:00. I opened the door, expecting to be greeted by my boys, as I am every day. But this time, it was only Champ that met me at the door. Casper was nowhere to be found. I walked around the house looking for him, and found him standing in the hallway. He was on his way to meet me at the door, but just couldn't get there. He stood there completely still, no wagging tail, no jumping up and down, no movement at all, except his eyes looking up at me. I bent down to pet him and he licked me on the cheek. I put down my purse and started back to the living room, but he didn't follow me. He just stood there, still not moving. I couldn't understand what could be wrong, since he had acted completely normal earlier, full of energy and spunk. I went and got his leash to take him outside, and he started to move, very slowly. I got him outside and could tell just how weak he was. As he started to do his business, I glanced down and noticed that there was blood in his urine, a lot of blood. Then, I saw blood in his stool. I was starting to panic. I didn't know what was happening, but I knew something was terribly wrong. He had become so weak from standing there, that he finally just laid down in the yard. I didn't know how I was going to get him back inside the house, since he weighs around 100 pounds, but I couldn't leave him laying there. I knelt down and petted him and he somehow managed to find the strength to get back in the house. I called my husband, Mark, and told him that something was very wrong. When I hung up the phone, I went back over to pet Casper. He was very hot to the touch. I got some ice and wrapped it in a towel and put it on him, in an effort to cool him down.
”Mark arrived home and called the veterinarian. We were told to bring Casper right over. When he got to the veterinary clinic, they could see that Casper was in trouble and rushed him in back immediately. After examining him, Dr. Baer said that Casper was extremely anemic and had a temperature of almost 107. Casper was very weak and his respiration was rapid. Blood work was run, and Casper was started on an I.V. One of the biggest concerns, at that point, was getting the temperature down. They started icing Casper and put fans on him, in an effort to cool him. Dr. Baer explained to us that Casper was very sick and they weren't sure that he would survive the night. Initially, it was thought that perhaps Casper had gotten into something toxic, but since his blood had clotted well, that seemed unlikely. Dr. Baer said they would need to hospitalize Casper, and that he would call and let us know how he was doing. I completely broke down. This was my baby, my sweet little boy, and there was just nothing I could do to help him, except pray, which I did with all my might. Dr. Baer stayed by Casper's side, for over four hours, even though the office had long since closed. Casper’s temperature would break a little, only to spike again. But Dr. Baer was there, to do whatever was necessary to help him. Finally, Casper’s temperature stabilized. Dr. Baer called to tell us that while Casper was still a very sick little guy, he was now stable. Dr. Baer knew how worried we were about Casper and he called us every hour, with an update. In addition to telling us about how Casper was doing, he would always ask how WE were doing. He understood that this was our baby, and he showed us so much compassion for what we were going through. Because Casper is deaf, it distressed me to think of him lying in the hospital, scared, with no one around to comfort him. Dr. Baer assured me that he would be there to make sure Casper was okay. He told me, he would pet him, and help him to not be so afraid. He said he would tell Casper how much we love him. Even though Casper can't hear, we still talk to him. He responds to facial expressions, and is comforted by that. It meant the world to me that Dr. Baer was there for him, when we couldn't be. Dr. Baer told us that he felt that Casper needed plasma, but because it is expensive, he wanted to ask us if that was okay. We, of course, said to do anything and everything needed to save our boy. I, myself, have many medical problems and ongoing medical bills which impact our finances so we asked Dr. Baer if we could work out some kind of arrangements for payment and he stopped us saying, ‘Don't worry about that. We can worry about all of that later. Let's just get our boy well.’ His only concern was for Casper and his well being.
”The next morning, Dr. Baer called to say that Casper was still extremely sick, but was stable. He said we could come and see him, so I left work and went to visit my boy. I couldn't wait to get there to pet him and give him a hug. However, I wasn't ready for what happened next. I went back to find him lying there, still very weak. The vet tech said it was time for him to go out and give them a urine sample and that I could take him on his leash. They got the leash and put it on him. Casper tried to stand up, but was still very weak. He managed to stand, took only a couple of steps and collapsed right in front of me. I felt like someone had punched me in the chest. I dropped to my knees and started petting him and kissing him and telling him that he had to fight with all his might. I explained to him how much we loved him and that we couldn't bear to lose him. Dr. Baer was on his knees too, right there beside me, examining him and trying to help calm him. He said that Casper had become extremely anemic again. He told me to take a few more minutes with my baby, then they would need to run some more tests. Dr. Baer gave me a hug and told me that he would do everything in his power to save Casper. I went out to the car and broke down. I couldn't bear to think that we might lose our boy. I refused to even consider that. Later that day, Dr. Baer called us to say that the blood work had come back and that Casper had been diagnosed with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. We had never heard of this, so he carefully explained it to us. He was very kind and patient, answering all our many questions. He told us that it was important to get him started on steroids right away. He continued giving him the plasma and started the steroids and other meds he needed. Casper had now become severely jaundiced. With every twist and turn, every complication, Dr. Baer quickly responded with the medicine and tests that were needed to treat the situation. Because of his quick actions, and years of experience and dedication, Casper slowly began to improve.
”When we had to be away from Casper to go to work, Dr. Baer called us several times each day, giving us updates to ease our minds. He knew how much we love our boy and how worried we were. He became concerned that Casper wasn't eating. Try as they might, they couldn't get him to take more than a few bites of food. Dr. Baer asked if I could come over and see if I could get him to eat. I fixed some of Casper's favorite foods, and headed over to the veterinary clinic. Casper immediately responded to my being there, and gobbled up the food I gave him. Right there on his knees beside me, again, was Dr. Baer. We both hand fed Casper, until all the food was gone. Casper was still very weak, and the process was slow, but no matter how long it took Dr. Baer was right there to help. Ready to do whatever he could to help Casper regain his strength and be on the road to recovery. He understood that Casper needed more than just medicine, I.V.'s, tests and blood work, he needed his family. He needed that emotional connection that was such an important part of his healing process, even more so because of his deafness. Casper needed the comfort that he felt from those who love him and are familiar to him. Dr. Baer understood that and encouraged us to come over as much as possible, to feed him and spend time with him. We were even allowed us to go and visit, when the office was closed. We would either feed him, take him out, or just sit and pet him and hug him and tell him we love him. Each day, slowly, but surely, Casper improved. After spending 6 days in the hospital, he was finally ready to come home! Words can't begin to describe how happy we were! Dr. Baer explained to us that Casper would have to stay on the steroids for several months and that we would have a long road ahead of us, but we knew we could get through anything. All that mattered was that we had our little boy back. He had lost a lot of weight, was still very weak and tired, but , the sparkle was slowly coming back to his eyes. We had Dr. Baer and all of the staff at the Hope Veterinary Clinic to thank for it. Once Casper was home, Dr. Baer continued to call and check on him, every day. He often consulted with the lab and other vets, to make sure that he was doing everything humanly possible to help our boy. His genuine concern for Casper was truly remarkable.
”Each and every person that cared for Casper at Hope Vet Clinic, showed him and us the utmost compassion and professionalism. I have no doubt in my mind that it was Dr. Baer's almost 30 years of experience and expertise, that gave him the knowledge and skills needed to treat this often fatal disease and save our boy. I honestly believe we would not have Casper here today, if it had not been for Dr. Baer. His quick actions and extraordinary commitment made all the difference in the world. He is truly dedicated to helping animals and has a kindness and compassion, not often seen in the world today. He treats his patients as if they are his own family and goes above and beyond to care for them, and their human families as well. Every time we take Casper in for a follow-up visit, Dr. Baer comes out to greet him at the door. He always says ‘How's OUR boy’ and gives Casper a hug and a treat. I can't say enough about his medical skills and expertise, but it is the kindness and compassion he has shown both us and Casper, that I will always be thankful for and remember. For his honesty, experience, dedication, compassion, kindness and devotion to animals, he is truly our hero!”
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