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The Will to Survive - Patrick's Story, Part 2

By Dr. Patrick Mahaney    February 02, 2012 at 01:00PM / (10) comments

Patrick the Pit Bull’s Extraordinary Recovery from a Life of Abuse and Neglect


Part 2


The Will to Survive - Patrick's Story, Part 1 familiarized petMD readers with Patrick the Pitbull. I am so grateful that Patrick was given a second chance and was able to overcome the suffering he experienced at the hands of his former owner, Kisha Curtis. Let’s now move further into his recovery from the first-hand perspective of his physical therapist, Susan Davis.



After assessing Patrick’s deficits and setting rehabilitation goals, I knew my treatment approach would need to accommodate the effects that prolonged starvation and neglect had had on him. Patrick had severely decreased muscle mass; his treatment could potentially create injury if not done with considerable care. I had to balance providing enough physical therapy (PT) during each session to obtain results without creating further soreness and strain on his already debilitated body.


The hospital staff noted that Patrick favored his left hind limb, especially during his first morning walk. There was tightness in the limb’s tendons, likely due to his positioning when he was unable to move.


Therapy began with a soothing massage ("effleurage"), Reiki, range of motion, and stretching the tight hind limb muscles and tendons. Techniques were gentle, slow, and were performed at intervals of only a few repetitions at a time. For this phase of care, I held Patrick and draped him across my lap, gently helping him to stand and support his weight evenly on all four limbs using an inflated physioroll, rocker board, and balance bubble. He was sweet and cooperative throughout the entire process.


Patrick soon regained full range of motion and stopped favoring the left hind limb. His coat thickened, his energy level increased, and he started taking short leash walks outdoors. PT treatment then focused on building muscle mass and strength by focusing on his abdominal and spinal muscle groups — the "core" muscle groups — eventually encompassing his whole body during "functional exercises."


Patrick was soon able to take longer walks, climb steps, go up and down inclines and around trees, tackle varying surfaces, and play with toys. Mini intervals of increased speed or intensity, similar to sprint intervals done by runners, helped to further "ramp up" his endurance. Patrick soared through his PT and seemed to enjoy every moment, with steady improvement each week. As the weeks became months, he was able to stand with even weight distribution and a normal top line. He gained muscle mass, improved his speed during walks, and showed less fatigue.


Besides PT, Patrick received ongoing expert medical care from the hospital, daily visits by Associated Humane Societies (AHS) staff, and sessions with an animal communicator and distance healer.


In the midst of Patrick’s physical progress, various battles raged regarding his custody, "ownership" of his image, and access to donations being made in his name, all of which resulted in considerable tension for those on all sides of his care. I often felt caught in the middle of some very uncomfortable situations, but Patrick and his needs kept my focus on his therapy. Throughout this process, Patrick showed love and appreciation for everyone involved in his recovery.


I provided Patrick’s PT treatments twice weekly for over a two month period. The AHS openly shares his progress, including my PT progress reports, pictures, and videos on Patrick’s page on the AHS website. He no longer needs my help, as you can see by the photo above, taken in July 2011. He has become a healthy, strong, and muscular boy!


The public response to Patrick has been overwhelming. I received e-mails and notes from kind, encouraging folks from all over the world, all expressing their love and healing wishes for Patrick. My time spent with him has been extraordinary.



Please return next Thursday to the petMD News Center for Part 3 of How Physical Rehabilitation Aided Patrick the Pit Bull’s Remarkable Recovery From Abuse and Neglect.


Top Image: Patrick Recovers / via Basset Hound Rescue Organizations


Comments  10

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  • Thanks
    02/03/2012 10:29am

    Thanks to everyone who helped Patrick recover and become a great friend; God knows he deserves it.

  • 02/05/2012 06:21pm

    Thank you for your comments.
    All those that were involved in Patrick's care deserve to be commended for their humanity.
    Dr PM

  • 02/05/2012 06:23pm

    Thank you for your comments.
    I agree with your remarks about appropriate ownership. As people cannot "accidentally" have a dog, there is premeditation that must occur in the process of acquiring a pet. If you are unfit to be a parent to your pet, then the pet deserves the opportunity for appropriate care in a new home.
    Dr PM

  • People claim to care..but
    02/03/2012 09:42pm

    After researching Patrick's story, I found it disheartening and upsetting to see that those who rescued him from unspeakable horror and pain and responsible for his treatment and future happiness, lost focus of their purpose and promises to Patrick. The Veterinarian Hospital hired by the AHS to care for Patrick decided that it would be in their best interest (financially and otherwise) to ASSUME custody of him, when they realized that he was gaining the love, attention and financial support of an entire country. Patrick was becoming more of an asset to the hospital the longer he was in their care... and they used him for his "celebrity" status and the attention he brought to the hospital. They decided that Patrick should belong to them, rather than the AHS who took him into their custody when he was so sick and HIRED the vet hospital to care for his medical needs and provide his tx. The great doctors there saved Patrick and deserve so much credit for his remarkable recovery; however, that gave them no right to literally dognapp him limit the access that AHS had to him. This was ridiculous...obviously the people who should have provided him with his medical care and recovery, for which they were paid (as any veterinary hosp would be)... lost focus of what was really important... Patrick! I cannot believe that they tried to keep his legal owners (AHS who rescued him, made the decision to give him another chance at life and cared for him during his most critical hours). After months of being treated at the facility, the hospital decided that Patrick was their dog and that they would find an appropriate home for him. They refused to socialize him with anyone outside of his caretakers, thus creating a strong bond between Patrick and those who cared for him at the hospital. Even though AHS visited Patrick everyday during his recovery, the hospital tried to discontinue such visits. Instead of all parties coming together and working for the betterment of this poor animal... SOME decided that Patrick's well-being was less important than their notoriety. SOOO sad. It became an issue of "What can Patrick do for us," rather than "what is the best we can do for Patrick." What if you took your pet to the Vet for care and when you went to see him/her or pick them up... the vet decided that since your pet had formed a bond with the receptionist and other staff members, like the guy who walked him while he was there... that your pet now belongs to the Veterinarian Hospital and they will decide who he will be happiest with. And in addition, you can no long have contact with your pet. It seems far fetched, but that is what has happened in the case of Patrick!! He became a pawn instead of a beautiful pup and pet.

    Wow, so sad and disappointing... the woman who caused all this pain and suffering for this poor animal... and selfish individuals who wanted to exploit him for their own good... Trust the Pit bulls; don't turn your back on people!!

  • 02/05/2012 06:26pm

    Thank you for your insightful perspective.
    Were you somehow involved in Patrick's treatment or custody (you seem to have such an insider perspective)?
    I agree that the primary issue here is that we focus on Patrick's wellness and not how gains from his celebrity. Additionally, I hope that Kisha Curtiss is appropriately punished for her cruelty (if proven guilty) to Patrick.
    Dr PM

  • 02/06/2012 01:19am

    Dr. Mahaney,
    No, I wasn't involved with Patrick, but am grateful for all those, from those who performed his obstruction surgery to those who gave him good morning kisses!!! After reading part one of your article I was compelled to research Patrick... the horrific condition he was found in by the sanitation team and his tx and remarkable recovery. I spent appx 10-12 hours looking for reliable articles that provided info on Patrick's journey and I constructed a time-line continuum. What this animal was subjected to prior to his rescue was horrific and his recovery was difficult and painful. This Curtiss woman who was responsible for his torture should absolutely receive the most harsh punishment allowed by law. A judge saw fit to make an example out of Micheal Vick some years ago (which I supported whole-heartedly); however, now that precedent has been set, let there be some judge who has the courage to follow it in this case.
    Thank you Dr. Mahaney

  • 02/08/2012 01:08am

    The photos from the Associated Human Service site were quite horrific. I ask "how can anyone subject another being, much less a dependent creature, to such a fate"? I hope that Kisha Curtis is commensurately punished in the upcoming trial, which reportedly will be in 3/12.
    The final installment of Susan Davis' perspective on Patrick's recovery is coming soon. Thank you for sharing in the process with us.
    Dr PM

  • 02/09/2012 12:51am

    Please keep us posted on the dates and times for this trial as you receive more specific details regarding such matter. I for one am extremely interested. Any information you can provide, including any means by which we can view or get up to date reporting during the trial, would be greatly appreciated, Doctor.

    Thank you,
    P.S. As a D.V.M. if you had examined Patrick upon his initial arrival, do you think you would have held out any hope or perhaps chosen to relieve and release him from any more suffering via euthanasia? Had you been the Doctor who first saw him in such a horrific condition, would you have thought he would have had a chance at survival at all? It must have been a difficult call for that medical staff to make on his behalf. After seeing and reading about his initial condition, I cannot say with all honesty that I would not have just put him down with as much love and dignity as possible, at the time. He must have had less than 20% chance of survival... I'm glad that the vet put her faith in Patrick and his very low odds, but I have to wonder if I would have done the same. Such a difficult position to be in.

  • 03/08/2012 07:21pm

    I'll do my best to get another petMD News article up when the world knows what will happen to Kisha Curtis.
    When I treat a patient, I definitely look most strongly at their overall quality of life. As Patrick is a young dog, it was likely that he would recover given supportive care and time. The same does not necessarily apply to an older dog, but all pets should be given the chance to improve before the decision for euthanasia is made.
    Thank you,
    Dr PM