Jelly: A Story of Survival

At just 7 weeks of age, Jelly Bean and her siblings found themselves in a concrete cage at an overcrowded shelter a week before Christmas. Their wish for life was soon granted. The San Clemente –Dana Point animal shelter had open runs; Jelly and her siblings were among several chosen and transferred through their 3rd chance program. Safe at last.

Jelly Bean and her “Sweater Sling”(1) On the way to a vet check up(2)

However, this is just the beginning of Jelly’s struggle to live.  Shortly after arriving at the SC-DP Shelter, Jelly developed Aspirate Pneumonia and ended up in the hospital again fighting for her life. The cause of the pneumonia was a condition called Mega Esophagus; this condition means the muscles of the esophagus cannot push food down to the stomach, causing it to sit in the esophagus and eventually get regurgitated.

When Jelly regurgitated, her food entered her lungs causing the pneumonia.  At less than 2lbs, the situation was grave for Jelly and she was not expected to survive. The vet also noticed several other deformities in Jelly and the shelter had no choice but to deem her unadoptable to the public.

To everyone’s surprise Jelly survived her battle with pneumonia and the Pet Project Foundation stepped in to see if there was anyone willing to foster her for the time she had left.  The vet warned that even under the best care she could still aspirate food in the lungs again. Pet Project Foundation told us of Jelly, her struggles, and her incredible will to survive. Taking her as a foster meant an incredible amount of work for the staff; but all agreed we had to try.  Jelly came to Paws at 10 weeks old and just 2lbs.

We made special living accommodations in my office and her daily care required lots of meds and 6 small meals a day; she needed to be held upright for at least 20 minutes after each meal to allow gravity to bring the food to her stomach. My amazing staff all pitched in and took turns caring for her — they even made her a special sling so they could continue with daily tasks while holding her so her meals made it to the stomach.

Jelly started to thrive at Paws and slowly started to gain weight. By the end of February she was up to 3lbs and was able to go play with the little dogs in playgroup!

We thought she was out the woods when suddenly in mid-March her trachea tore and she began leaking air. Back to the hospital she went. We took Jelly to Dr. John Agostini at San Clemente Vet Hospital.  This condition was extremely rare and Dr. A did extensive research to find an answer.  Unfortunately, due to her small size and condition, surgery was not an option. He wrapped up her neck to keep the tear closed to allow it to heal and prescribed pain meds and antibiotics to put Jelly back together again. She returned to Paws and we all hoped for the best.  Now, Jelly needed even more specialized care.  Seth, our Head Trainer, begged for the job.

Jelly needed her neck wrapped for a couple months to help her trachea heal. She was such a trooper!

Seth took it upon himself to foster and care for Jelly, feed her, medicate her, and take her to her vet appointments and check-ups. As we like to call it in

the rescue world, Jelly was a “foster failure”. She is now 9 months old and thriving in Seth’s pack.  She still has mega esophagus and has to be held after her feedings, but she’s now over 8lbs, her trachea has healed, she’s off all her medications, and is as spunky and loving as can be! Her will to survive is truly inspiring as are all the people who believed in her and helped her along the way.

Jelly is so happy and wiggly it’s almost impossible to get a still photo of her. She loves playing with toys, eating, and hanging out with her new family 🙂

This journey would not have been possible without your help.   Please consider donating to Pet Project Foundation who paid for Jelly’s medical expenses and the Paws Rescue who donated lodging, food, and specialized loving care:

Pet Project Foundation: P.O. Box  5688 San Clemente CA 92674

Paws Rescue: 1285 Puerta Del Sol, San Clemente CA 92673 and 20641 Pascal Way, Lake Forest CA 92630

I am so grateful for the amazing staff at Paws.  They renew my faith in mankind every day.