Fort Myers, Florida (News-Press) -- Karamel is a feisty, funny member of the Ransom household in east Lee
County. She bounces around and gets excited for handfed treats, and
doesn't shy away from anyone.
long ago that her owners, Ann and Gerald, weren't sure their 8-year-old
miniature poodle, rescued from a Kentucky animal shelter, would be
around much longer.
the Ransoms were out of town, Karamel, who was being watched by the
Ransoms' daughter, had an unusual episode where she fell asleep briefly
and jerked awake, then recovered almost immediately. After a trip to
Karamel's regular veterinarian and then to see Dr. Sarah Scruggs at
Specialized Veterinary Services, the Ransoms had a verdict: Their little
10-pound companion needed rescuing again, this time in the form of a
"I didn't know there was such a thing as a doggie cardiologist," Ann said.
A lot of people don't, nor are they aware that dogs - and cats - can also wear pacemakers, according to Scruggs.
Philippines native and University of Florida graduate is one of about
230 veterinary cardiologists in the country, but one of the few in
Southwest Florida. The pacemaker Karamel received is the first to be
installed in a dog in Lee County, Scruggs said. Residents used to have
to go to Tampa or elsewhere for the surgery.
did the procedure on Karamel in mid-December. Much like a human
pacemaker - typically what is installed in animals - the device is
required after heart block, heart disease or arrhythmia develops. In
Karamel's case, it was heart block that caused her near-fatal episode.
"Heart block is a disease in dogs ... in which the electrical system of the heart stops working properly," Scruggs said.
there was no incision into her chest cavity, Karamel was on the
operating table for about an hour and required only a one-night stay
before returning home.
Her operation came with a bit of anxiety for her owners.
were apprehensive on all sorts of levels," Ann said. "Thinking 'oh
gosh, I have a little dog and she's going to be worth Fort Knox,'
because you're not quite sure what the cost is going to be, and my
biggest concern was that she's small."
But Scruggs was experienced, having installed several pacemakers
before in Denver, one in a dog weighing a little more than a pound.
The surgery costs about $2,000 on average when the pacemaker is donated, as was the case with Karamel's.
said it's common for human-pacemaker companies to donate the devices to
veterinary hospitals, and some pacemakers may come from a person who
recently died. Those can't be reused in humans, but they are perfect for
hundred dogs per year receive pacemakers. Devices like Karamel's were
first used in dogs in the 1980s, though the first dog to ever receive a
pacemaker was a 10-year-old Basenji in 1968. That device had been
removed from a human who died six months after its implementation.
Shelf-life is always a concern with pacemakers, as well. But for dogs, it may be less of a concern given their shorter lifespan.
Almost 100 percent
remains about two weeks out from complete recovery, and Ann said the
most difficult thing has been keeping the little ball of energy from
getting too excited.
"(She) feels so much better. Her heart is working better than it did before, so she's ready to be active," she said.
also feels guilty for keeping Karamel locked up when she gets too
excited, and is interested to see how security agents at the airport
react when she tells them the little passenger wears a pacemaker.
have to have a card stating she has a pacemaker ... as to how
believable they'll find that, I don't know," she said with a laugh.
"They're very social animals, and they get excited about seeing the people and dogs they know," Ann said.
After all Karamel has been through, "for her to continue at a normal level is pretty amazing."
You may also like...
Weird Florida: A look back at some of the strangest stories of the year
Miracle Baby: Tampa toddler has 5-organ transplant
Broke Bad: Contest winner busted in synthetic drug ring
Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
Fake Cop: Man arrested 3 times for impersonating officer
Animal tragedy: Girl's miniature horse attacked by dogs
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here