A Yorkshire vet practice has helped mend the broken heart of a rescue puppy with a fatal birth defect.

Peak Vets, in Sheffield, took over the care of three-month-old Minnie after she was rescued by the Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue charity and a heart murmur was discovered during a routine check-up.

Following investigations at the Linnaeus-owned practice, in Olivet Road, Minnie was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a dangerous congenital heart defect which leads to death from heart failure in just a few months if left untreated. 

She was swiftly taken into the care of veterinary surgeon James Baddeley, his partner and visiting cardiologist Jane Pigott and veterinary nurses Ashleigh Kubie, Emily Mellor and Sarah Thynne.

Following the successful operation, Minnie has been permanently rehomed by her foster carer, Jo Teasdale, in Sheffield. 

James said: “PDA is one of the most common congenital heart defects in dogs. If it isn’t treated when dogs are young, it will quickly lead to the heart enlarging and eventually failing. 

“This case was a bit unusual in that it was a team effort between myself and my long-term partner Jane!

“We carried out the procedure via open chest surgery, called a thoracotomy, where we make a window between the ribs to access the heart. 

“The surgery was very difficult as the PDA was very thin-walled and fragile and it ruptured during the dissection. 

“This led to some bleeding during the procedure but we managed to tie up the problem area in time and successfully close the PDA. The whole operation took around an hour.”

James said Minnie recovered remarkably well from the procedure and was well enough to go home the next day. 

“She has now had her three-week scan to confirm the problem has been resolved, and she is now expected to have a normal life expectancy,” added James. 

“Getting Minnie through the identification and resolution of the problem was a real Peak Vets team effort between Jane and myself to tackle the surgery and the nursing team to manage the difficult anaesthesia and aftercare involved with cases like this.”

Teresa Cargill, founder and CEO of Phoenix French Bulldog Rescue, said it was a difficult decision to choose what was best for Minnie.

She said: “We’ve had experience with heart surgery with other vets in the past and we sadly lost a dog due to unforeseen complications, and others have gone on to develop further problems post-operatively. So, we were very nervous about whether intervention would be the right thing to do for Minnie in the longer-term. 

“However, Minnie was different; she was very young and had a far brighter future open to her if the surgery was done but a very short one if not. 

“I cannot praise Peak Vets enough for their generosity, as well as the continued kindness of our wonderful followers who donated to a fundraiser for Minnie's medical costs; without either of these we would have struggled to mend her. At a time when compassion fatigue is becoming a real problem, and understandably so, Minnie transcended that divide and brought out the love in so many people, veterinary professionals included.

“During all of this time Minnie was being cared for by her amazing foster-mum. We don’t have premises, so all our dogs are put into homes to be assessed prior to adoption. Jo was certain she wanted to help Minnie, and she took the journey with her for heart scans, diagnosis and, ultimately, surgery. 

“Minnie was a little trooper and really did well with the surgery, recovering very quickly and very well. It was no surprise that her foster home became her forever home! 

“Stories like Minnie's are why we all do this, for the ‘happy ever afters’. The power of the general public is a fabulous thing when it comes together with the veterinary profession to be sure that one little dog, born without choice, is able to move on to be loved and cared for in good health. That is why we do what we do.”

New owner Jo added: "Minnie definitely wasn’t dealt a good hand at first but since the operation she’s come on leaps and bounds. She’s a really confident puppy who enjoys her daily walks here in Sheffield. 

“She has a vivacious personality and shows all the signs of a happy, healthy puppy since the operation. I’m truly grateful for the work Peak Vets did - all the care from the staff has been above and beyond, particularly around her op and after-care.

“Minnie lives at home with me and my 10-year-old Frenchie Peppa, who has taught her boundaries and patience. Minnie is now a fearless pup who makes everyone smile!”

Peak Vets deliver a full primary care service seven days a week, with the practice open until 9pm on weekdays. 

For more information about Peak Vets, visit www.peakvets.co.uk or search for Peak Vets on social media. 

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