TARBORO, NC......Usually, a picture is worth a thousand words.   Not in the case of Etta James.  Not only was the picture not accurate, but her story wasn't either.   The original story from SPCA Alliance of NC was a desperate plea to help a 10-month-old stray mixed breed puppy.   The original text said she needed emergency surgery.  A tumor/growth was found outside her kidney when she was spayed.


My first thought was, this pup was mighty young to have a tumor near her kidney.   If she did, then the prognosis was not good, and if she didn't, she needed a Specialist to determine what it was.  I agreed to take Etta since we do a lot of cancer surgeries and have the best surgeons around.    


The first Red Flag came when the transporter let me know Etta had swelling around her right eye, and the eye was oozing.   I reached out to the Group, and they were not aware of any eye issues.   The 2nd Red Flag was Etta belonged to another group, and they had not seen the dog.   I told the transporter to keep taking the dog to CVRC in Charleston, and they would deal with whatever issues Etta James had.  


Our primary focus was on the tumor she had, and the eye would also be addressed.  The Third Flag came when I got a call from the Hospital saying Etta's eye was so swollen they were going to have to sedate her to figure out what was going on with her face.   I told them to do whatever they had to do and to be sure to talk to surgery about the tumor on her kidney.


They stopped in their tracks as if I had suddenly grown two heads.   They thought Etta was there for the abscess on her face.  I had them go over her original records, and at the very bottom, it said, "Large mass involving left kidney and ureter."  They did x-rays, ultrasound, and No Mass could be found. This went on for days while they were taking care of Etta and her abscess.  She needed surgery on her face, but they would not do that until they found the mass.   


Red Flag number Four has now surfaced that Etta James is not eight months old but closer to 18-20 months, so she actually could have a tumor at that age.  Etta had to be on antibiotics before they could do surgery, so the ER Team looked after her during the weekend.  When Monday rolled around, she was transferred to Surgery and Internal Medicine. In the meantime, the hospital that did her spay sent us a picture of the growth they found during her routine spay.


Now, mind you, her bills are going up, up, up to find this tumor/growth. We had already done x-rays and several ultrasounds and could not find the growth.  It was determined the only way to definitively locate the growth was with a Cat Scan of her entire body.  The surgeons would then know where it was and the best way to remove it since it was clearly hiding.   


Cat Scan was done, and the only thing they found were metal remnants from her being shot.  It was now conclusive, Etta James did not have a growth, tumor, or cancer.  The surgeons could finally operate on her face and remove the abscess she had below her right eye that was effecting her eye.   


Somehow in the course of when the original picture of Etta was taken, she got a puncture wound that became infected. No one noticed, and the area became abscessed and swollen.  Dr. Steve Garnett did surgery to remove the infected pocket.  A culture was taken to determine the appropriate antibiotic and ensure we did not have any cancer cells in this area.  All of this is standard practice for us when we do surgery, and there is an infection.


Etta did wonderful during her procedure and is now recovering with a pretty significant wound.  She will have wonderful stories to tell about her scarred face.   While our dear pup was recovering, I sent her original report and the picture to several Specialists to see if they could determine why the Clinic thought she had a growth.


The best analysis came from our Surgeon, Dr. Chris Gauthier, below.


"I just wanted to follow up on your question about the impression of a mass associated with Etta Jame's kidney. I reviewed the picture from surgery and the recent CT.  We can confidently say based on CT that there is no mass or other abnormality in the kidney or that part of the abdomen. There was, however, evidence of gunshot injury as there are still metallic projectiles in the tissues.  What makes the most sense is that she had bleeding (or less likely infection) into the retroperitoneal space secondary to being shot. The kidney lives within that space and, when there is fluid or a clot in that region, it surrounds the kidney and can look like a mass. It was almost a month between the surgery and our CT. That is more than enough time for blood/effusion/possibly infection to resorb and return to normal. This is the only thing that explains everything and is something that we see on occasion with trauma." 


I believe people are honest and do not intentionally say something they do not believe is true.   I could not let Etta leave the hospital without knowing if she had a growth or not.  It is hard enough getting strays adopted, but one with a growth that could be cancer is a Death Wish.   Etta James is a fabulous pup we believe is a cross between a Jack-Russell and a Red Heeler.   She is high-energy, loves to play, and thinks every dog and cat is her friend.   When she heals, she will be the perfect Family Companion.  Please, fill out our Adoption Application if you think she would be right for your Family.


In the meantime, her bills are through the roof.  We have thousands of dollars determining she does not have cancer or any growth to cause concern.    She is recovering from her Abscess Surgery and should have a full recovery.  We now have to raise funds to pay her bills to help more pups like Etta James get the medical care they need to survive and thrive.  Please, Donate toward this sweet, sweet girl.  Any amount is greatly appreciated.



Warm hugs and much Love from everyone at Noah's Arks Rescue.

July 26, 2020 by Jennifer Smith