When Elli Frank heard about a puppy who had been tied to a pole in the freezing New York City winter and brought to Manhattan’s Animal Care & Control, she leapt into action.
The puppy, who was abandoned on New Year’s Eve, would die if he didn’t get help immediately.
The 10-12 month-old puppy had an extreme medical condition: a prolapsed rectum that would require a risky surgery.
Frank, who is the founder of New York City-based rescue Mr. Bones & Co., rushed to the Manhattan ACC on New Year’s Day, hoping that a kind soul would let her in to help the puppy and get him the medical attention he so needed.
Luckily, shelter staff — who had the day off — let Frank in to meet the puppy.
Soon after, the pup was in Frank’s car and on the way to veterinary care. Because he looked like a small gray potato, she decided to call him Tater Tot.
In addition to his serious medical condition, Tater Tot appeared to have a hereditary condition that made his legs extra-short (and his gait extra-special).
Veterinarians at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan performed a surgery to put Tater’s colon and rectum back into place. During the surgery, they also addressed his septic abdomen.
But Tater wasn’t out of the woods yet: an ultrasound showed signs of chronic trauma to his pelvis area, and he was still leaking blood and fecal matter after his surgery.
Mr. Bones & Co. specializes in high-need rescues, but this one would prove to be more than they’d ever taken on as an organization, with medical bills that eventually surpassed $28,000.
Frank decided to foster Tater Tot herself, which meant attending to his many medical needs. The sweet pup couldn’t control his rectum due to his surgery, so he needed to wear little diapers (Frank used bright and cheery Speedos). Frank reassured Tater that “everybody poops,” so he didn’t need to feel embarrassed.
Tater also needed baths three to four times each day to help soothe his bottom “after working so hard with [his] stent.”
Tater has become an expert at these baths:
Despite the loving and attentive care he’s received, Tater had to go through another intensive surgery when an ultrasound showed an abdominal perforation. He was septic again; the perforation meant his abdomen had filled with fluid.
For this surgery, his veterinarians gave him only a 50/50 chance of survival.
As Frank and all the staff at the Animal Medical Center are learning, though, Tater is a fighter. He pulled through the 4.5-hour emergency surgery, and has continued to show a strong will to live. (Pulling through two septic abdomens is nothing short of a miracle.)
Even after two surgeries, Tater wasn’t done fighting. In early March, Tater went through a third procedure— 7 hours in total— to remove his colon, which had started to close up, making him unable to have normal bowel movements.
Even without a colon, Tater showed his rescue and veterinary teams that he wanted to keep living. Frank told PupJournal, “Seeing him today, you would never know he’s undergone three major surgeries in the span of six weeks!”
He’s even gotten back to taking those baths that he loves so much.
Though Tater is still being monitored very closely, he’s also taken some time to do some more normal puppy things, like chew on his own feet:
A post shared by Mr. Bones & Co. (@mrbonesandco) on
We’re so glad he’s made it this far, and wish him the best of luck as he continues to get stronger.
If you’d like to donate to Tater Tot’s ongoing intensive care, you can do so either by purchasing Sophie Gamand’s portraits of Tater, by purchasing other items that feature his portrait, or by donating to his GoFundMe campaign.
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Header image via Mr. Bones & Co. / Facebook