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Utah Labrador Retriever Scooby Gets Pacemaker in Gainesville, Florida

Thanks to the Salt Lake Tribune for this happy news. Dog's life saved by pacemaker operation By Sheena McFarland The Salt Lake Tribune Gary and...

Joy  |  Apr 1st 2007


Stacy, Gary and Scooby Anthon with Amara Estrada.jpg

Thanks to the Salt Lake Tribune for this happy news.

Dog’s life saved by pacemaker operation
By Sheena McFarland
The Salt Lake Tribune

Gary and Stacey Anthon’s beloved dog Scooby has moved on to greener pastures – and the West Jordan couple couldn’t be happier.

The 6-year-old black Labrador retriever is spending the next three months in Gainesville, Fla., after receiving a pacemaker Tuesday that saved his life.

The usually active Scooby started fainting nearly 10 times a day beginning a couple of months ago, and a Utah veterinarian diagnosed the dog with a third-degree heart blockage. Basically, the electrical impulses that made his heart pump weren’t firing.

The doctor gave Scooby only a few weeks to live.

That wasn’t satisfactory to the Anthons and their four children, age from 7 to 17.

They researched options, and learned only veterinary colleges would perform pacemaker operations on dogs. In addition, most charged up to $3,000 for the procedure.

“We couldn’t afford to drop thousands on our dog, and our only options was to euthanize him or watch him suffer and die,” Gary Anthon said.

Then, a Google search turned up the name Amara Estrada of the University of Florida. She happened to be running a study on canine pacemakers, and the study paid for Scooby’s surgery and follow-up exams.

“We cashed in some frequent flyer miles and my wife and I flew with Scooby down to Gainesville,” Anthon said Wednesday, after returning from three days in Florida for the surgery.

Estrada, a board-certified veterinary cardiologist, has previously completed some pretty unusual canine heart surgeries, including one where a swallowed barbecue skewer entered a dog’s heart, according to Sarah Carey, spokeswoman for the University of Florida Veterinary School.

But the doctor was especially moved by the Anthons love for their dog.

“They originally were just going to donate him if that’s what they had to do to save his life,” she said. “Scooby is the first out-of-stater.”

The study, funded by the Morris Animal Foundation with pacemakers donated by Medtronic, will help model some of the problems and successes of humans with pacemakers.

The study takes a total of 18 months, but the Anthons couldn’t be separated from Scooby for so long, so they will bring Scooby home in three months, and then return every three months for checkups for the next year and a half.

“Now that we know how much we would miss him, we just couldn’t do that,” Gary Anthon said. “It’s worth it to pay for the extra trips down there.”

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