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K.E.Y. Animal Hospital Gives Husky Hit by Car in Georgia New Life in Wheeling

Photo by Alan Olson - Dr. Karl Yurko spends time with husky Astra after performed a series of surgeries to save the dog’s back legs after she was struck by a car near Savannah, Georgia.

WHEELING — The road to recovery before and after surgery is often long and arduous, but for Astra the husky, that took a more literal meaning.

Lying on the side of a road near Savannah, Georgia, after being struck by a car, Astra was rescued by a local, who posted about the dog’s plight to social media.

Both her back legs and her pelvis were fractured. It was believed at least one leg would need to be amputated. Medical costs were estimated at more than $7,000. According to a social media post by the hospital, Astra’s owners were notified and did not want her after the accident.

K.E.Y. Animal Hospital nurse and business manager Jennifer Yurko saw the post and alerted her husband, veterinarian Dr. Karl Yurko, and together the two mobilized to help Astra. Several people worked to shuttle Astra up to Wheeling on Jan. 19, where Karl Yurko spent the next two days working to repair Astra’s tibias, femur, and pelvis.

“(Jennifer) saw that this girl needed help, called them up and said we’d do everything we can for her,” Karl Yurko said.

“She coordinated it from the social media end, I coordinated from the medical and surgical end, and together we gave her a better chance at keeping her legs.”

By Thursday, Yurko described Astra’s condition as improving, but that she was “not out of the woods yet” one week post-surgery. For her part, Astra was calm, reclined in an oversized dog bed, and happy to lick and receive pets from anyone close enough.

Yurko said Astra’s extensive injuries and underlying health conditions posed a challenge, but one to which K.E.Y. was ready to rise.

“The heartworms were an anesthetic challenge, and … her pelvis was fractured,” he said. “On one leg, she had a femur and tibia fracture, on her other it was just a tibia fracture, but she got smashed pretty hard. It takes a lot of effort and fracture management, and they weren’t the easiest fractures to fix.”

Further procedures are still to come, Yurko said, but after her recovery, Astra was already arranged to live with a new, local family.

“She’s here in our hospital, chilling and taking it easy. We’ve got heartworms to treat, things to manage, we’ve got to get her spayed,” Yurko said of her remaining treatments. “She’s going to be here for another six to eight weeks, maybe three months, healing and convalescing, but she’s getting better.”

After Astra’s recovery and rehoming is complete, Yurko said, his wife will be off looking for another dog in need of help.

“After that, when she gets her home, Jennifer will get back to the (message) boards and rescues and find another one,” he said. “We do them one at a time, we don’t charge anybody for the hardware and circumstances like that. We just want to do it because that’s part of what we do.

“She’s going to be here, living it up, until she gets her home,” he added of Astra. “She’s a wonderful dog, she’s very tough, she’s a very good patient and she’s just absolutely wonderful. … She really seems to understand that she’s being taken care of. We don’t always get those patients, but we take care of them the same. When one’s fixed, we move on to the next one.”

Yurko said K.E.Y. has helped treat animals from far and wide, from Texas to New York and will continue to do so.

“It’s fun, it’s good, and it’s what we have to do.”

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