Updated: Friday, 19 Jun 2009, 4:16 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 18 Jun 2009, 5:55 PM EDT
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - When a dog statue from a community summer art display was damaged in a string of thefts and vandalism, the Purdue Small Animal Hospital offered to help. They repaired damage to the statue's leg just as they would if the statue had been a real dog.
Though several of the dogs, painted by local artists, have been damaged or stolen, this statue was particularly badly injured. It had one of its hind paws severed when it was stolen off of its display base.
The veterinarians at the Purdue Small Animal Hospital found a way to make the best of a bad thing, however.
"I was excited that we could use this unfortunate experience as a learning experience for everyone. I thought it would be nice for people to see what it is we offer at the university and what as a vet surgeon we can offer to patients with fractured limbs," said Dr. Amy Fauber.
Dr. Amy Fauber decided to stabilize the foot so the statue could stand on it again without reinjury. The vets treated the operation on the statue just as seriously as they would treat an injury to a real dog.
Vets didn't take any chances. They did the surgery in a sterile environment just as they would any other procedure. Everyone in the room was required to wear scrubs and masks. The statue was even hooked up to a small breathing mask and blood bag during the operation.
Dr. Fauber installed five titanium pins.
Fauber said it was easy to control the blood loss during the surgery, but the procedure was slightly dustier than normal.
Artist Liz Rainey said she knew the injury was serious, but had never expected her dog to be damaged badly enough to need hospitalization.
"I thought maybe a child would snap an ear off, but never dreamed the dog would go through all this," said Rainey.
Rainey had originally titled the sculpture 'Give A Dog A Bone, An X-ray View,' because she painted half the dog's skeletal system on the statue. However, the dog left the 30 minute operation with a new name.
"When I brought him here, the staff at Purdue University vet medicine gave him the name 'Oliver' because they said it's 'all of our' dog," said Rainey.
When the operation was over, the Oliver was left with a device supporting his leg called an external skeletal fixator. The device is colored gold and black to represent Purdue, and each pin has Oliver's name engraved on it.
Rainey said she was impressed by the way the surgeon and veterinarians turned the negative event into such a positive one.
"They've made this all part of the history of Oliver and part of his story," said Rainey.
Oliver came out of recovery and went directly back to being displayed. He's now feeling well enough to see visitors.
He can be found at the entrance of the Veterinarian Medical Library in Lynn Hall on Purdue's campus.