Steven the Dog Survives Coyote Attack

Helena Lazaro didn’t think she had any reason to be concerned when she heard her dog Steven barking from her hillside yard back in July 2012.

“He always barked at other animals and dogs that passed by,” says Helena. “So, when I heard him and another animal barking, I didn’t think anything of it.”

Following her usual routine, she called Steven back inside after several minutes, and when he didn’t come right away, she decided to give him some extra time.stevencrosspaws

“Lots of times when he would go out, he would ignore me and not come back. That night, when I went out and called him back in, he wouldn’t come,” Helena says. “Thinking that he was just ignoring me again, I decided to give him more time–something I’ll never forgive myself for.”

After a little while Helena became frustrated and went outside with a flashlight to find Steven and bring him back inside. But rather than finding her dog exploring the hillside terrain, she discovered him in a terrible state.

“[He was] torn to shreds and barely alive, leaning against a tree,” Helena says. “I’ll never forget his face as he turned to look at me, like he had really been doing his best to try to listen to me and come home, but couldn’t.”

Steven had been attacked by a coyote. He had broken eight of his ribs, his body was torn open in three places, and he had a piece of tree bark embedded in his hind leg.

“The vet said that during the attack, the coyote had probably picked Steve up from overhead, shaken him several times, and thrown him into the tree with such force that the bark became embedded in his leg,” Helena says. “They were not hopeful for his survival and recommended we let him go, but I wasn’t prepared to do that.”stevenbandaged

It was the 4th of July weekend, and Helena had a difficult time finding facilities that could offer the life support services that Steven needed until surgeons became available. But with persistence and determination she was able to locate a suitable place for Steven to rest and begin to recover, and once a surgeon became available, Steven underwent several operations.

“All with a very bleak prognosis,” Helena adds.

It was a stressful time for Helena, as it would be for any pet parent. Steven’s recovery was difficult, and he required around-the-clock care for over a month. Helena stayed home from work to care for Steven during that time and when her sister returned from her bartending job each morning, she would take over so that Helena could get some sleep. The sisters alternated this way throughout Steven’s long rehabilitation.

Though the time commitment and worry about Steven’s prognosis were already a lot to handle, Steven’s medical bills also loomed in the background. His treatments cost nearly $5,000.

Helena depleted her savings account, applied for a grant through RedRover, and her sister set up a tip jar at work.stevenhome

“But the real saving grace was the fundraising page,” Helena says.

This was before fundraising sites had become as popular as they are now, and Helena was amazed to see the response from the animal-loving community who saw the page she set up on FundRazr.

“Money poured in from family, friends, and total strangers,” Helena says. “Their messages of hope were deeply inspiring and their support made it possible to bring Steven home, get the medication he needed, and make sure we didn’t go into debt.”

Ultimately, Steven recovered and regained his ability to walk. And when he began disobeying Helena again, she knew everything was going to be OK.

Helena and her sister clearly went above and beyond to save Steven’s life. But for Helena — who has a history of depression — she was simply doing for Steven what Steven had done for her so many times.

“Steven saved my life on more than one occasion,” Helena says. “In my times of deepest despair, he gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. He made sure I got sunshine and exercise, and that I felt loved. Taking care of him mattered even when I had stopped taking care of myself, and so it was that he pulled me through the years-long chronic depression that no medicine could remedy.”

Today both Helena and Steven are doing well. Several of Steven’s ribs were not able to be put back into place, so his midsection is misshapen and he walks a little funny. But despite those issues, Helena says that he is as bold and as spirited as ever.

“This June, we went for a picnic at the Santa Fe Dam and he saw a horse for the first time. He actually dragged me across the ground with his force as he tried to take down an animal twenty times his size,” Helena says. “He hasn’t learned his lesson at all. But now I know it’s my job to make sure he stays out of danger, to make sure I have a plan in case of emergencies, and to always exercise caution in areas with unfamiliar animals.”

To thank Helena for all that she’s done for Steven, we are giving her a free trial of PetPlus so that she can save on Steven’s medications, food, supplies, vet visits, and more.

Thanks, Helena!



Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a complimentary trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


3 Tips for Pet-Friendly Emergency Preparedness

Following the deadly mudslides in Washington, the Associated Press writes that authorities don’t have a clear number of how many pets were killed or are missing or displaced by the slide.

If your heart breaks at the thought of these pets being separated from their owners and possibly injured, donations are being accepted at the Everett Animal Rescue Foundation.

For pet owners everywhere, it’s a reminder to review your emergency plan for your whole family, including pets.

1. Create a Pet-Friendly Go Bag

Include pet food and supplies with your emergency kit or go bag.

2. Make Sure Your Pet Is Accounted for

Make sure your pet has a collar with identification, and if you are forced to evacuate, bring your pet along if at all possible. If there is a storm or tornado warning, bring your pets inside to take shelter with you.

3. Tell the Neighbors

It’s a good idea to check that your neighbors are aware that you have a pet, so if a weather event or other disaster strikes while you’re away from home, neighbors will know to keep an eye out for your pets.

RELATED STORY: Prepare for Emergency Pet Care


How One L.A. Filmmaker Saved His Pet’s Life with The Help of Friends and Facebook

Last summer, on the way to a 4th of July BBQ, *Jeff Hoffman noticed something strange about his dog Peanut.

“He repeatedly laid down flat on the sidewalk, and refused to continue walking,” Jeff said. “I mistook this as his reaction to the fireworks going off around the neighborhood, and reluctantly carried him the remainder of the way.”

After arriving at the BBQ, Jeff noticed that Peanut was lying in an odd position on a sofa, then changing position, and then changing again.


“He looked like he couldn’t figure out how to be comfortable,” Jeff said.

A few moments later, Peanut jumped down from the sofa, let out an unnatural high pitched squeal, and bolted to hide under a desk. Fortunately, one of the people attending the BBQ was a veterinarian, and Jeff found her and asked for advice.

“She said that in the best case scenario, he mildly tweaked his back, and proper rest would alleviate the condition with the help of some anti-inflammatory medication she gave us,” Jeff said. “But if he appeared to be in pain and I noticed him dragging his legs, I should take him to the 24 hour emergency clinic immediately. We decided to go home so that I could monitor his behavior.”

That evening was incredibly stressful for Jeff. Peanut couldn’t lie down in his normal position, and he refused to sleep. He sat on his rear end with his head staring straight up at the ceiling. Anytime Jeff tried to help him get more comfortable, Peanut’s breathing increased and he let out little whimpers. Jeff stayed up with him for hours and finally decided to test his legs by standing him upright.

“To my horror, his attempt to walk was without any control over his rear legs, which dragged numbly behind him,” Jeff said. “At 4 in the morning, I took him to the ER.”

The High Cost Of Emergency Pet Care

The vets at the emergency clinic discovered that Peanut had a pinched/herniated disc, a condition common in long-bodied dogs like dachshunds.

“I was devastated to learn how much Peanut had been suffering,” Jeff said. “He had paralyzing inflammation in his lower body; I felt terrible for him. Immediate surgery was required to prevent permanent paralysis.”

Peanut underwent emergency surgery performed by a neurologist at the clinic. The neurologist removed the inflamed tissue that was pressuring the spinal column, and Peanut remained under veterinary care for two days following the surgery.

The cost? $5,500, not including the pain medications and sleeping pills prescribed to Peanut.

“At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to pay for it all. I’ve never had pet insurance,” Jeff said. “Though I was aware of the possibility that Peanut could suffer this injury because he’s a dachshund, I didn’t do my research and assumed that it only occurred later in life.”

The vet clinic suggested that Jeff sign up for a CareCredit credit card. CareCredit immediately approved a line of credit to cover Jeff’s expenses, and it included a 0% interest rate if paid within 6 months of activation.

“Payment was taxing,” Jeff said. “But luckily I was able to pay off the debt before interest kicked in, which would have included retroactive interest starting at the date of the original surgery payment.”

Paying Off The Credit Card, Creatively

In order to pay off the CareCredit card within 6 months, Jeff knew that he would need some help.

“My friend group was hugely supportive and they were all actively pushing me to create a fundraiser to help cover Peanut’s expenses,” Jeff said. “Another friend of mine did a similar campaign using Kickstarter to cover his own dog’s surgery, but I felt uncomfortable asking for money.”

But then, Jeff found a creative way to pay back the people who wanted to support him.

“Some friends who own a letterpress company offered to donate their time and skill set, so instead of using Kickstarter I created a Facebook page and linked it to a Paypal account. Suggested donations of $10, $15, and $30 were reciprocated with a variety of handmade letterpress coasters and 5×7″ card prints featuring drawings of Peanut done by an artist friend of mine.”

This clever campaign raised $2400.

“Raising that money was a huge relief,” Jeff said. “It not only helped me pay back the credit card in time, it also lifted my spirits to see how much my friends supported me and Peanut.”

Peanut had a difficult recovery. He couldn’t walk for the first three weeks, he required a sling to support his midsection, and he wasn’t able to properly function his hindquarters.

“It was tough to watch,” Jeff said.

In all, it took about 6 weeks for Peanut to reach his current mobility, which Jeff says is probably 90-95% of what it was before the injury.

Hindsight Is 20/20

Jeff says that if he could do it all over again, he would sign up for pet insurance from the start.

“I would definitely recommend pet insurance, especially with purebred dogs,” Jeff said. “Most varieties should expect to encounter some health issue throughout their lifetime and it’s much easier to deal with the small insurance bills compared to veterinary bills. Peanut’s surgery could have potentially cost upwards of $7500, and some other surgeries are more costly.”

Today, Peanut is feeling much better, though he still has trouble balancing from time to time.

“He’s a trooper,” Jeff said. “He’s been through a lot, but he’s still got a great attitude. When I see him wobble a little bit, I’m reminded that this could happen again — it often does. And now he has a pre-existing condition, which makes it hard to sign him up for insurance. But we’re going to stick together. I’m going to stick by him.”

After hearing Jeff and Peanut’s story, we decided to offer them a complimentary year of PetPlus coverage. PetPlus offers deep discounts on pet medications plus savings on vet visits, vaccines, kenneling, and thousands of pet supplies. AND PetPlus covers ALL cats and dogs with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

“Wow,” Jeff said. “That’s so generous! Peanut and I can’t thank you enough.”

We thank you, Jeff, for sharing your story with us!

*Upon request the PetSavvy editors changed Jeff and Peanut’s real name for professional reasons. The other details of the story are completely true to real life.

Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


Emergency Pet Supplies: Disaster Preparedness for Pet Parents

Chances are that you keep some emergency supplies around the house in case of a disaster — maybe a first aid kit, important phone numbers, non-perishable food items, and some bottles of water. But did you ever think about what your pet might need?

For most owners, pets end up becoming members of the family, and just like any other family member, you want them to be safe during an emergency. Here is a useful list of supplies to have on hand for your pet in case you need to take shelter at home or leave to get help.

Emergency Pet Supplies

  • 1 week supply of food

    • You may not be able to make your way to the store to purchase pet food during an emergency. A 1 week supply of pet food stored in an airtight, waterproof container will give you peace of mind and your pet something to eat if disaster strikes.

  • 3 day supply of water

    • Many disasters can disrupt water systems and make drinking water unavailable or unsafe to drink. While stocking up on water for you and your family, think about your pet, too.

  • Pet first aid kit

    • You never know what kind of injuries could result from a disaster. Additionally, your pet could suffer an unrelated injury while you are hunkering down at home or taking refuge in a safe haven. A first aid kit that includes supplies especially for pets will prepare you to handle minor injuries at home or on the road.

  • Any medications your pet is taking

    • Many pets take regular medications such as insulin, anti-inflammatories, and flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives. If your pet is taking any medications regularly, ask your veterinarian about getting additional doses that you can put in a waterproof container and add to their emergency kit.

  • Medical records

    • Your pet’s medical records will be important to have on hand if you need to leave the house during an emergency. Put a copy of your pet’s records in a waterproof bag or container and add it to their emergency kit.

  • Microchip number

    • If your pet is microchipped, keep a copy of the microchip number in their kit. Unfortunately, some pets can get lost in the chaos of an emergency, and having your pet’s microchip number will make it easier to find them.

  • Collars & ID tags

    • For their safety, pets should always wear a collar with a rabies tag and identification tag. Keep backup collars and ID tags in your pet’s emergency kit.

  • Leashes

    • Avoid getting separated from your pet during an emergency by keeping them on a leash. Extra leashes put in your emergency kit may come in handy should something happen to your old standby.

  • Recent photos

    • Keep recent photos of you and your pet together in their kit. Include on the photos information such as breed, species, color, age, sex, and any distinguishing features. If your pet becomes lost during an emergency, these photos can establish your ownership and allow others to help you find your pet.

  • Emergency sticker for your door

    • Should you need to flee your home without your pet, an emergency sticker placed on a door or window will let rescue workers know that a pet is inside. Most of these stickers allow you to write in how many pets are inside, your veterinarian’s name, and their phone number. If you are able to take your pet with you when you leave, write EVACUATED across the sticker.

  • Litter and tray for cats

    • Having extra litter and an additional tray packed up and ready to go will allow you to leave the house more quickly with your cat in case of an emergency.

  • Poop bags and cleaners for dogs

    • As with the bathroom supplies for cats, a readily available supply of poop bags and cleaners for your dog will be one less thing to worry about if disaster strikes.

  • Pet carriers

    • It may be safer for your pet to travel in a carrier should you need to flee your home. Even if your pet doesn’t usually travel in a carrier, having one on hand is a smart idea.

  • Blankets and Toys

    • Blankets, toys, and any other items that bring your pet comfort can help reduce stress during an emergency. Keep a few extra of your pet’s favorite things in their emergency kit.

Don’t put off getting your pet’s emergency supplies together, and visit for more information on preparing your pet for disaster.