The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 27, 2013

‘All life is sacred’: Woman hoping to find funds for dog’s hip surgery

Frank Sojak

SOMERSET — When the Animal Medical Center in Somerset told one of its patrons, Rebecca Lindeman, about an ill German shepherd pup that could thrive with the right care and love, Lindeman jumped at the chance to adopt it.

Lindeman said the dog’s breeder could not afford extensive medical care for the pup, so she was glad to take on the responsibility.

Everything went all right for months, with Lindeman taking the dog for treatments at Animal Medical Center whenever a medical problem developed. The latest problem however, a hip replacement, is an expensive procedure, costing up to $5,000.

To help defray the costs, she is asking for financial support from the community.

She named the dog Ethel, in honor of her 96-year-old great-grandmother, who likewise is battling health problems.

Lindeman said that when she first got Ethel, the pup weighed just a little more than 3 pounds, about half of what she should have. One front leg was bent beneath her at an odd angle and the others were too weak to support her, she said.

“Maybe I understood her (Ethel’s) plight better than others,” said Lindeman, who has fibromyalgia and receives physical therapy from Western Pennsylvania Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic in Somerset,

The rehabilitation clinic was great, making a custom-built brace to support the bent leg while Ethel could learn to use and strengthen her other legs, she said. The clinic refitted the brace often due to Ethel’s growth spurts, she said.

Ethel was doing well and starting to walk under her own power when her hind legs began to fail. The veterinarian quickly got her walking again.

The Somerset Area Dog Training and Activity Club, of which Lindeman is a member, was instrumental in getting Ethel back into shape mentally and physically by socializing with other dogs and receiving agility training.

Then it happened again.

Lindeman noticed that Ethel was having problems with a hip. An X-ray revealed that Ethel had dysplasia of the hip.

The operation cannot be performed for six months, or until Ethel has physically matured, said Lindeman, who also has two rottweilers.

Lindeman said that she believes in euthanasia when there is no other choice, but that there is hope in Ethel’s case.

“I took Ethel in as a very sick little puppy because, to me, all life is sacred and a gift from God,” she said.

“I wasn’t sure back then if she’d make it, but I was certain that I could at least give her comfort, safety and love. Everyone and everything deserves at least that much.”

Thankfully, some good people like Dr. Vince Svonavec of the Animal Medical Center and Steve Podratsky of the rehabilitation clinic agreed with her, she said.

Susan Schrock, a member of the Somerset Area Dog Training club, said Ethel has such a joy for life.

“Even though she has these problems, she just wants to be active and play with other dogs,” she said.

Lindeman doesn’t want to give up on Ethel but needs the public’s support to accomplish that goal, Schrock said.

People wishing to help can do so by sending donations made payable to the Ethel Fund, Somerset Trust Co., P.O. Box 777, Somerset, Pa. 15501.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.