Sometimes all your love just isn’t enough
January 27, 2007
BASALT – Simba the house cat was a red tabby with a soft, long mane.He was a gentleman of a cat who liked to sun himself in the window and visit with neighbors.When he died at almost 20 years of age in 2005, his owner, Julee Roth, was beside herself with grief. Before his death, Roth was prepared to give Simba the best veterinary care money could buy.A successful business owner of a pet product company, she was fortunate that way.But after 45 minutes of CPR from Simba’s vet, Melissa McPherron, the majestic cat with the majestic name died on the examination table.In his memory, the Simba Fund was born.
Walley the dog has three legs.And, some might speculate, he has nine lives – much like a cat.Last summer, Walley relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley from Sidell, Ill., after a tornado hit his family’s home. Not long after the move, his 2-year-old “sister,” a Rottweiler named Little Bit, succumbed to heartworms.
Two weeks later, a car hit the friendly pomeranian-shitzu mix in his neighborhood. Walley was rushed to Mountain Veterinary Surgical Associates in Basalt.His prognosis was not promising.Both Walley’s hips were broken, and one leg was fractured in four places, with nerve damage. Walley’s other leg was crushed – and could not be saved.”He was hit pretty hard for being in a neighborhood,” said his owner, Roberta Stanback.Fortune was not smiling on the Stanbacks, a family with five children, who had already lost their home in a natural disaster.Roberta Stanback and her family were devastated by the thought of losing another pet.So soon, so tragically.Simba to the rescue.McPherron, Walley’s vet, knew Walley could be saved. She wanted to help the Stanbacks with the costly surgery necessary to save his life.”The first night they had him in, they told me, ‘You won’t believe what this little guy did,'” Stanback said. “They had him in the bottom kennel and the door was open because they figured he wasn’t going anywhere. They were taking the other dogs outside and they said he did everything he could to go potty with the other dogs. She [McPherron] knew from that he was a fighter.”
Walley underwent surgery to amputate one leg and fix his pelvic fractures. Donations from the Simba Fund – which helps care for stray animals or pets of owners with extenuating circumstances or limited resources – made it all happen.”His recovery was really quick. They were really impressed,” Stanback said. “They warned that with the amputation he might suffer from depression but he was showing more and more he was trying. He did really well.”Today, Walley is full of energy, even on three legs. He’s even befriended a neighborhood cat who he plays with on walks.”We are extremely thankful for the Simba Fund,” Stanback said. “Dr. McPherron has got such a great compassion for animals. I want her to know just how much it meant to us.”
When McPherron talks about the Simba Fund, a dog nicknamed Rafter comes to mind.A RFTA bus accidentally hit and dragged the 11-month-old Labrador on Highway 82. The collision caused multiple fractures in Rafter’s front leg and deep lacerations on his body. A fireman who responded to the scene of the accident followed a trail of blood in the snow and found Rafter trying to make his way home.Rafter’s injuries were so severe, and his medical expenses so costly, his owner was unable to help. McPherron took custody of the dog and operated.Again, Simba saved the day.Like Walley, Rafter had to have a leg amputated. The Simba Fund, along with McPherron’s donated services, helped Rafter stay alive. He spent nearly two weeks recovering at the animal hospital before a couple adopted him.And, much like Walley, he makes it around fine on three legs, playing with the other dog in his new family.”We’ve been able to help a lot of animals,” McPherron said. “Typically the smaller care, people can handle. The Simba Fund ends up helping pets that are badly injured or need intensive kinds of care. In general, we tend to undertake the stuff we can fix and we can get them back to a good quality of life.”In that mission, Simba’s spirit remains.