At 8 weeks old, Dempsey was intentionally set on fire by a juvenile, and then abandoned. Burn wounds covered his underside, tail, and most importantly his feet as his toenails melted into the bone. He lost the tip of his tail, had no toes, and hardly any paw pads, creating many daily challenges.
He was rescued by a shelter, survived the Parvovirus and soon went to work as a public educator for the Pike Township Fire Department with his adopted mom, Eileen Orban. Dempsey sits in on Juvenile Firesetter interviews and visits burn camps and schools to educate children and adults that if fire can hurt him, it can hurt anyone when used inappropriately or irresponsibly.
In June 2012, IVR/IVEC launched "Dollars for Dempsey" to raise $10k to help fund multiple reconstructive surgeries for Dempsey, so he would no longer suffer from constant pain. IVR/IVEC agreed to match every $1 raised. Any excess funds would benefit public safety education programs at Pike Township Fire Department.
Within 3 months, over $11k was raised through online donations, 11 referral veterinary hospitals and a fundraiser at the dog-friendly Milano Inn.
Milano Inn Fundraiser
In August 2012, the Milano Inn hosted a fundraising event for DempseyŚ10 percent of the evening sales went toward his surgeries. Between a silent auction, personal contributions and sales, we raised $6,185. Barkefellers raised $785 during the campaign and matched that same amount with a check during the event.
Road to Recovery
Dempsey has had a total of 5 corrective surgeries along with several additional smaller procedures.
Summer/Fall 2012: Dr. Vecchio removed hard remnants of his toenails, in which the pain probably felt much like a small pebble under the skin. Tendons were released, which caused him to walk on the tips of his toes. Several toes needed to be separated due to fusion in part by scarring from his burns.
December 2012: Dempsey underwent 2 surgeries, called arthrodesis, which fused the wrist on both front legs since he had weakness to the ligamentous structure. His injuries caused an abnormal gait and posture of the front limbs, resulting in improper ligament development, which then led to shoulder pain.
March/April 2013: Dr. Vecchio repaired his back right foot by releasing scar tissue that was hindering the range of motion of his back leg.
Also in March, the Pike Township Fire Department awarded Dr. Speiser and Dr. Vecchio with a Public Service Award during its annual award ceremony for the "Dollars for Dempsey" campaign and the time, effort and devotion spent to improve Dempsey's quality of life.
June/July 2013: Dempsey needed a series of injections to help stimulate the bones in his wrist to fuse together. A troublesome plate was then removed and replaced with pins and bone grafts.
Today: He has a more normal posture and gait. Toe and shoulder pain have subsided. Calluses on his toes have developed (where his pads once were) to make walking more comfortable with his new front limbs. His rear limbs are still healing from a few smaller procedures to remove nail remnants and manage tendon contracture. Another small plate was placed to help fuse a portion of his left carpus.
After he completely heals, rehabilitation including the water treadmill, is the final step.