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Shelter tries to mend poodle's heart, asks for donations (video)

By Jessica Priest
Aug. 29, 2013 at 3:29 a.m.
Updated Aug. 30, 2013 at 3:30 a.m.

About 6-month-old rescue poodle Noodles, shown here with Adopt-A-Pet volunteer director Renee Wheeler, has a heart defect known as patent ductus arteriosus that could  potentially be life-threatening when she is older. The staff of Adopt-A-Pet of Victoria is raising money to pay for corrective surgery for Noodles. Her first surgical procedure is scheduled for Tuesday at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Noodles, an apricot poodle puppy, squirmed on a purple blanket Thursday.

Renee Wheeler, the director of Adopt-A-Pet, where the 5 1/2-month-old is staying, is certain Noodles would have been adopted in a matter of days.

"Looking at the way she acts, no one would ever think there was something wrong with her," Wheeler said, petting Noodle's tummy.

But there is something wrong with her.

And, as if on cue, the pooch coughs - probably because workers drew blood from her neck about an hour before.

"I don't know if that's something new or if it's just irritation," Wheeler said.

Noodles has a heart murmur, which could point to a birth defect called patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, said Dr. Karen Klinkerman, a veterinarian at the Houston Highway facility.

"Instead of the normal ta, duh, ta duh, ta duh of a heartbeat, Noodles' heart sounds like a washing machine with vibrations and whoosh, whoosh, whoosh sounds," she said.

Klinkerman has so far seen only one other similar case during her 15-year career.

PDA results when a blood vessel that normally closes after birth fails to do so. As Noodles grows older, less oxygen will pump to her heart, and she'll possibly die because of it, she said.

"There's still a lot of unknowns," Klinkerman said, suggesting Noodles could also have another heart defect.

That's why Noodles will head Tuesday to Texas A&M University in College Station, where she will be examined by cardiovascular veterinarians.

Adopt-A-Pet already raised $1,000 by posting flyers around town for a down payment on whatever treatment is necessary, but now it is asking the public to help the organization come up with the rest.

If Noodles is diagnosed with PDA, she could be treated by inserting a catheter into her arteries or by an open heart surgery. Each procedure could cost about $3,000, depending on varying factors, Klinkerman said.

Noodles was dropped off at the no-kill shelter June 11. She was covered in hundreds of tiny ticks and fleas and weighed 4 pounds.

Adopt-A-Pet placed Noodles on a medical hold until it can resolve her health issues. The organization does not want someone to adopt her and then not follow up with treating her, Wheeler said.

Wheeler has long championed those others considered to be lost causes.

"We give them all a chance. Sometimes that backfires, and they live here forever," she said, pointing to what's called the "Old Faithful Room," which houses animals that have been at Adopt-A-Pet for as long as 15 years.

"But most of them turn around with a little work. ... Noodles has a sparkle in her eye."



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