Bennett is a one-year-old Belgian Malinois and German Sheppard mix. His calm, independent and gentle personality is what drew Kristen Logan to adopt him as a ten-week-old puppy – and they have been inseparable ever since.
“He’s a lover, not a fighter, and he’s very calm for his breed, which is usually super high energy,” says Kristen.
Kristen views Bennett as her child; she always keeps a close eye on him, and he rarely wanders away. But one afternoon in September 2022, when Kristen—who is training to be a paramedic—was at work, Bennett made his way to the road where he was presumed to have been hit by a vehicle that fled the scene.
Kristen’s dad was home at the time and saw that Bennett’s hind leg was seriously injured, so he quickly bandaged the wound and brought him to a nearby veterinary clinic.
“I was receiving non-stop calls from my dad towards the end of my shift, so I texted him to find out what was going on,” Kristen says. “When he told me that Bennett had been hurt, I had a huge sinking feeling in my chest.”
Kristen was told that he had suffered a degloving injury, which involves damage to the outer layers of skin, exposing the muscle and bone. The veterinary team at Watzin Veterinary Clinic in Waterdown assessed the injury and stabilized Bennett with antibiotics, but the veterinarian told Kristen that he would ultimately need help beyond what their clinic was equipped to provide. Bennett was referred to the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) for advanced care and surgical wound management.
“The veterinarian at Watzin told me how extensive Bennett’s injuries were,” Kristen remembers. “The OVC came highly recommended to us. I knew that the OVC had a great reputation, so we packed up the car and brought Bennett to Guelph as soon as possible.”
Bennett was admitted to OVC’s Intensive Care Unit for two nights in September 2022 where he underwent an initial surgical procedure to debride and flush the wounds (which involves cleaning and removing infected tissue to promote healing) and initiate intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy to treat infection.
Due to the challenging location of Bennett’s wounds, the veterinary surgical team recommended that he receive a meshed free skin graft—a surgical procedure where sections of skin are taken from the side of the body and placed on the wound to help the skin re-grow and speed up the healing process. The degloving injuries Bennett had endured were over muscles used to walk and move around, and can be a difficult area of the body to treat – even when activity is restricted as much as possible.
“I was told that it may take months for the wounds to heal on their own without a graft,” Kristen says. “Skin grafts were presented as the best possible option to help close the wounds sooner, and I trusted the care and expertise of the OVC team.”
Bennett underwent his first surgery on November 3, 2022. He recovered smoothly, and in the months that followed, he returned to OVC on a weekly basis for bandage changes and to monitor his wound. As is often the situation with medically complex cases where treatments and interventions are ongoing, in January 2023 it was recommended that a second skin graft surgery be performed to further accelerate Bennett’s healing.
On January 13, board certified small animal surgeon Dr. Ameet Singh and surgery resident Dr. Rebecca Beardall performed a meshed free skin graft on Bennett’s leg at the OVC Companion Animal Hospital.
“Due to the size and location of Bennett’s wound, a free skin graft was definitely the way to go so that skin would cover the wound instead of waiting for the wound to scar over on its own, which would take several months,” Dr. Singh explains. “We took a piece of skin from the side of his body and transplanted it into the wound site. Additionally, we used a vacuum-type bandage device – which is very commonly used in people to aid in wound healing – to help the graft ‘stick down’ and give it the best chance to start its healing process. We left the vacuum bandage in place for four days and we were very happy with Bennett’s progress in healing following that procedure.”
Next, it was a waiting game.
“Bennett was hospitalized at OVC for six days after his surgery, which felt like an eternity,” Kristen says. “The OVC team kept me updated every day by telephone and I was even able to visit him a couple of times in the hospital.”
Since his skin graft surgery in January, Bennett’s wounds have been healing well – and fortunately, the graft was 100 per cent successful.
“He loves to play in the snow, but during his recovery, I kept him on leash whenever he went out for bathroom breaks, and he wears a boot outside so his wound dressing doesn’t get wet,” Kristen says. “My dad also built him a ramp so he doesn’t need to climb the stairs.”
Kristen’s quick action after Bennett’s injuries and her dedicated care throughout his recovery have helped his wounds heal and he is back to being his regular self. Bennett is an important member of the family and Kristen is grateful for the ongoing care that he has received at OVC. He is now back to doing the things he loves most—like hiking, camping, swimming, and playing with other dogs.
“Although Bennett is a dog, he’s my best friend and a great companion,” she says. “I do not know what I would have done without our veterinarian recommending OVC. Without their care, Bennett may not be here with me today.”
Bennet's story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2023 edition of Best Friends.