Patches’ Happy Ending


Patches, the rat poison dog...

Patches safe on Crystal's porch in Bella Bella

Another AAS/Crystal Kerr team-rescue from Bella Bella, a fishing village on BC's coast. Patches is Billy's older brother (see Billy's Happy Ending here)

Another plea to AAS from Crystal Kerr, dog rescuer from the B.C. North Coast fishing village of Bella Bella...


Would it be possible to do another dog? I call him Patches. His family has moved away and abandoned him. Just left him on the street. He found me all the way out here where we live! He's been hit before, because he ducks when I raise my hand to throw a stick, but he still loves affection. He's a very friendly, do-what-you-want- to-me type of dog. I believe he is about 12 months old this August/01.

Patches is such a great dog! He didn't leave yesterday, so I took him in for the night. He loves being inside! Settles in and does not want to go back out for any reason. Again today, he stayed right by my side, even when the other dogs ran off to chase each other, and sticks. He played with the others wholeheartedly, but always kept looking back at me, and came over after short chases. He would make a great family dog. You can do anything to him, he's very good natured. You can roll him over, look in his ears, kiss his face all over, examine his paws, pull on his legs, anything. Great family dog, very passive.

We said Yes of course.

Hi Judy,

Patches flew down today (September 1/01 from Bella Bella after AAS found a great home for him with the Molby family) and was picked up at the airport by the Molbys. Sounds like everything went really well - Sacha Molby told me that they all adore him! He is friendly and happy, and loves the kids, follows them around, lets them lie on him and wrestle . He's been following Sacha around the house, everywhere she goes, he follows. They took him out into the backyard to see if he would pee and poop, and he did, (he's such a good boy!) and then he galloped playfully around the yard. When Sacha called me, she said Patches was sleeping on the kitchen floor and every time she or her husband walked by he would wag his tail. He really deserves a family and fun and action; and to think how his life has suddenly changed makes me a little emotional.


It looked like the AAS/Crystal Kerr team had done it again - another Happy Ending! But it wasn't to be so quick and easy.

First Patches got diarrhea, and then bloody diarrhea, but that is very common when a dog's diet is suddenly changed and so many new things happen at once. But then he started to show blood in his urine too, and that's when AAS stepped back in.

We got Patches to our vet, Dr Alf Burt of Marine Drive Veterinary Hospital in North Vancouver and after tests came back from the lab we got the bad news - just what Dr Burt suspected - rat poison! And Patches was so far gone that he would need some extraordinary medical intervention - blood transfusions at the Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic! Before leaving MDV Patches got intravenous Vit K (clotting), fluids (dehydration) and antibiotics (secondary infections). Dr Burt is a remarkable man and a remarkable vet. He is so skilled and experienced, and he is so ethical - he never takes advantage of hysterical pet owners by putting their sick pet through lucrative but unnecessary procedures and tests just to make money. We trust him absolutely.

I (Judy) picked up Patches on a Saturday morning and drove him the the Animal Emergency Clinic in Vancouver where all the intensive life-saving work began immediately. I wish I could say that it went easily, but it took three transfusions and three days until Sacha, Crystal and I got the good news that he would make it afterall. There was a lot of testing and iffy news, and upsetting disappointing bad news - after the first transfusion when the red blood cell counts didn't improve, and then again after the second transfusion, more disappointing news, and then finally, the last hope, fresh blood from a dog-donor - and then the long-awaited phone call with the news that he was out of the woods.

All three of us had almost given up hope, but the vets at the Animal Emergency Clinic knew what they were doing and he was in the best hands Vancouver has for crises of this sort. It had got so that I couldn't bear to answer the phone in case it was bad news. I've gone through this before once, and I do hope to never go through it again! Poor Sacha lost five pounds in three days. But Patches survived and could leave the Animal Emergency Clinic.

Patches' bladder was still leaking blood and he was peeing every two minutes, but when I went to pick him up to take him back to Marine Drive Vet for a day's rest and observation, all the staff at the Animal Emergency Clinic crowded around to say what a dear, good boy he is and how glad they were that we'd saved him. It never crossed my mind to do anything but save him! But their relief and joy made me realize what vets must go through. Too many people just won't pay the bills to save a dog, and vets must hold their breath wondering if they are going to be called on to put all their skills to work to save a dog, or be forced to put it down.

AAS treats every dog that comes into its care as one of their very own beloved family pets, and we wouldn't let mere money be more important than one of our own pets. Patches was one of our own, even though we hadn't even met him until we took him in our car, sick, and leaking a steady dribble of bloody urine, to the AEC. He thumped his dear tail at every word we spoke to him all the way.

We just say, "Do what ever you have to do, we'll just have to find the money". And we do. It's a slippery slope once you start making life and death decisions based on money. So we don't.

Patches in the life-saving care of the Animal Emergency Clinic in Vancouver. That's Dr Kath Klassen in blue, Dr Teresa Hall in white (she's my niece, lucky AAS) and vet tech Jennifer Johnson.
Patches at Marine Drive Vet with Doctors Alf Burt and Anne Irwin. Anne is listening to Patches' heart beat and Dr Burt is checkingthe colour of his gums to see that they are properly pink, before letting him go home.

Excerpts from emails going back and forth during Patches' crisis...


Everyone, my parents, brothers, other family members all just love him. (He'd only been with the Molbys one week, but he is a very likeable dog.) They are all praying for Patches now. He is in my thoughts every moment. Thank you for responding so quickly to my last e-mail. I feel so much better now and I really appreciate your reassurance. With all of us pulling for him he's just got to make it!!!




Dr. Burt is an amazing man and you're right, we are so lucky to have him! I'm still checking my e-mail every minute it seems, and I so appreciate all your updates. Every time I read that the doctors are optimistic or that they think he'll pull through I get my hopes up for more good news. I was a bit alarmed to hear that he had vomited as he has never done that before but I guess all this is such a strain on his system. I was also worried about blood being back in his urine but I guess all my worrying isn't going to help any now is it? Are we running out of options or is it just a waiting game now? This has been so hard on everyone involved but it's comforting to know that Patches has such a great support system of people.

We miss him so much and feel so lucky that every thing possible is being done for him. I have been going to the AAS website for comfort and the more I read about the things you and Crystal have done (and are doing!) for these dogs, the more I admire how courageous you both are! To continue on through all these painful situations... I don't know how you do it! I'd be a permanent wreck! Anyway, I'm sure you've got better things to do than read all my blabbing...I just need to feel connected to him somehow. Hope you hear more (GOOD!) news soon!




I'm heartsick. Afraid to answer the phone or check my email for fear of what news I may hear of Patches. I've had a lot of sad things to deal with here, (Crystal rescues dogs that are battered and neglected beyond belief in the fishing village she lives in on the BC coast), but I'm sick over Patches. I've been all over the fish plant searching for exposed poison, and I can't find any, which is good. Sacha called early this morning, sounded so anxious and sad. I can't call her back to make her feel better when I don't have anything good to say. As a respiratory therapist, I know about warfarin, (rat poison), a powerful anticoagulant, and there's nothing good about it. No miracle cure or reversal, maybe vitK1 to help with the clotting. You must feel like this every time you check your email or answer your phone. I know how exhausted you must be, because you are doing everything yourself, not just the calls. I know you must sit in front of your computer to check you email with apprehension, disappointment and often anger. I do hope so much that the one or two positive things that happen help to keep your spirits up, although they are few and far between, and can't make up for all the suffering. Yesterday was a tough day. For relief, I went onto the AAS web site to read over and looked at the pictures of Billy. (Another team rescue.) I do that when I am feeling overwhelmed here, it's like a balm. Look at what he has now. Who could ever have imagined all that he would have. He was the lowest of the low, a baby, totally neglected, starved, in constant fear, hit by a car, broken, and trying so hard to survive. Then he was plucked off the street, and sent to an entirely new life. Just like that. My god, what would he or I have done with out you. The pictures of him playing with his new companion Ayla and his new mom make me smile in wonder. He's so safe and loved. (To read Billy's story, click here.) It opens my heart again. Well, long day ahead.



Hi Crystal and Sacha,

At last - good news! After the third blood transfusion the Animal Emergency Clinic says that Patches' red blood count is now up to 22, (needs to be around 40), his gum colour is pink (was white), he is eating a little, drinking well, still has diarrhea and some blood in his urine, but this is to be expected as the bladder walls feel spongy and have absorbed a lot of blood. His liver and kidney tests show normal. Apparently there are no residual effects as long as the liver and kidneys are normal. He will have to be on oral Vit K1 for 4 -6 weeks because the new rat poisons have a half life that long. They tell me he is wagging his tail! I want him to stay at MDV until Dr Burt feels his packed cell volume is at a safe level. I will go to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Vancouver and pick him up tomorrow morning and take him to Marine Drive Vet to rest and for observation. I want him to stay there until Dr Burt is sure he is well enough to go home.




THANK GOD!!! I almost can't believe it! I've been holding my breath for three days. Please, please kiss his big face for me! I haven't been away from the computer for more than half an hour all day. I am just giddy. I'd give my life for these animals. Please email once you see him for yourself or if anything changes. Thank you so much. This outcome is only because of you. He would have died here, horribly and most likely alone.


Patches tail never stopped moving when he saw his "family"again, Sacha, Roy, Ty, and Brooke, at Marine Drive Vet.
Patches still isn't used to vehicles, but he got in the family van happily. Did he know he was headed home? Dogs don't care where they're going, just as long as they're with you.
The Molbys took Patches with them to their family's camp on Vancouver Island and Crystal came down to see Patches again. This is Crystal with Patches.
Patches and Brooke playing tug-of-war
Ty and Brooke and Patches


Just thought you might like to hear how Patches is doing. He's doing soooo GREAT!!! He's so much stronger and livelier! He still needs to gain more weight but he's got so much energy! He acts like such a puppy! Always wants to play and loves it when the kids chase him (or he chases them) around the yard. We need to get him more of his own toys because he keeps sneaking off with the kids things. The other day, I caught him trying to carry off one of Brooke's toy purses! The best news is that his bladder seems to be back to normal - no more dribbling! So he has full run of the house again! He sleeps in the kitchen/family room still though which is where he seems most comfortable and on Saturday morning Tyrell went down before us to say good morning and as soon as he opened the door Patches ran straight past him up the stairs and jumped right in bed with Roy and I! Ty jumped in too and we all wrestled and laughed at how huge Patches is! He took up the whole bed! It's so funny because he doesn't seem to realize how big he is! When I'm sitting on the couch he always tries to crawl onto my lap but his head alone fills my whole lap; and the rest of him just sticks out and wags! He's so soppy! Anyway, I could go on forever! We just love him so much! The other night it was a pleasant evening so we went for a walk after dinner and the kids took turns holding the leash. Ty likes to run with him which Patches loves and they both have so much fun. Brooke just walks and he never trys to run or pull her along. He tries to keep pace with her (which is slow) and usually ends up getting all tangled in the leash because it's so slack. He seems to sense that she's little and wouldn't be able to keep up if he ran. Roy and I just walked behind and watched them both with Patches and it was just so sweet to see how happy they are together. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect dog! I can never thank you enough! I have tons more stories of course but I really should get to bed! I'll update you again soon!


That is why he was so worth saving. The bills for Patches came to $2919.57. Thanks to the generous discounts of Dr Suann Hosie, the owner of the Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic, and Dr Alf Burt, the owner of Marine Drive Veterinary Hospital in North Vancouver, it would have been a great deal more. Dr Teresa Hall, of the VAEC, personally donated $250.00 and many other open-hearted people have sent us donations to help to pay Patches' bills.

Thank you everyone!

November 29/01

Hi Judy,

It's 6:00am and snowing here in Squamish. Everything is quiet and white. Just now, I was sitting downstairs in the family room stroking Patches' ears and feeling so good because he is inside all snuggled and warm on his blanket with a full belly and a family that loves him. All he has to look forward to today is playing in the snow with the kids and getting cozy by the fire when it's time to come in. How his life has changed!

Just wanted to share that with you.


It is AAS's web site, advertising, ethical standards, and scrupulous screening that enabled Patches to escape the horror of his life in the place he came from, to be saved from dying from rat poison, and to find a home fit for a dog. If you can help us to pay Patches' and many other animals' bills we would be so grateful. Tax receipts issued.

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