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Patrick’s Legacy

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Patricia Smillie-Scavelli
Garden State Veterinary Specialists


In the evening of March 16, 2011 a severely emaciated dog arrived at Garden State Veterinary Specialists after having been rescued from the bottom of a garbage chute. Clinging to life, this dog that was barely more than a skeleton captured the hearts of our staff with his soulful eyes. It was clear that this dog had not given up on life and we would not give up on him. With round the clock attention by specially trained technicians and emergency doctors in the Intensive Care Unit, he survived the night. The next morning, St. Patrick’s Day, he celebrated his rebirth and was named Patrick.

Patrick’s recovery was slow and his body showed the signs of physical abuse, dehydration and starvation. Examination by Dr. Kate Palmer, a Boarded Criticalist, revealed that he was most likely a fully grown mixed breed dog which should weigh about 50 pounds, instead he weighed only 17 and was having difficulty maintaining even that weight. Patrick was examined by almost every Specialist at GSVS including: the Dermatologist, the Cardiologist, the Neurologist and Internist. He was scraped for ear mites, radiographed for broken bones and old injuries, had a cardiac ultrasound to look for possible heart damage, a CT scan to ascertain any neurological deficits, and an abdominal ultrasound to check for internal blockages. Through all this poking and prodding, Patrick remained calm and peaceful. He exhibited no fear of the staff but loved being held and touched by people. Patrick did not even shrink from a needle; perhaps he had experienced much worse.

Even before he had arrived at GSVS, the media had taken hold of his story. The plight of a dog which had been starved and thrown down a trash chute, yet survived became a rallying point for thousands of animal advocates not only in the United States but throughout the world. Within two days, Patrick’s story had over 100,000 followers on Facebook. Animal advocates throughout the United States started their own local organizations in Patrick’s honor. Patrick’s influence was also felt in the New Jersey legislature where century old laws failed to provide stiff penalties for animal cruelty. In 2013 Governor Chris Christie signed “Patrick’s Law”, a Bill introduced by Senator Tom Kean, Jr., which increased the penalties for the abuse of an animal.

Animal welfare experts have long held the belief that there is a connection between human and animal violence. The FBI seems to agree and has started tracking animal cruelty cases in the same way it does a variety of violent crimes. According to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, some of the “red flags” of animal abuse include: singed, matted or chronically dirty fur; wounds, unusual scars, frequent limping (on different legs); prominent ribs; lack of protection from the weather; and extremely tight collars or halters that dig into an animal’s face or neck. We can continue to honor Patrick by recognizing and reporting the signs of abuse.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the professional advice of your veterinarian.

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