Homeless Dog Receives Life-Saving Heart Surgery Before her Adoption

July 5, 2012

BOSTON--July 5, 2012 – When “Lyssa,” a young terrier mix arrived at the MSPCA-Angell Animal Care and Adoption Center in May her future was bleak.  Born with a congenital heart condition, the dog was surrendered to the MSPCA with the hope that she might find a home in which to live out her last days.  However, after a life-saving surgery performed by Angell Animal Medical Center’s Dr. Nancy Laste—a board-certified cardiologist with over 20 years’ experience treating cardiac disease in animals—Lyssa’s heart was healed, and she has just been adopted by a family in Medford, Mass.


Lyssa Arrives in Desperate Condition

Upon arrival at the MSPCA, Lyssa was examined by Dr. Cindi Cox, lead veterinarian at the Shalit-Glazer Clinic, which serves the medical needs of homeless animals at the Adoption Center in Boston.  Said Dr. Cox of that first meeting with the scruffy 9-month old canine, “I could immediately tell—even before listening to Lyssa’s heart with a stethoscope—that she had a very serious condition.”


Dr. Cox diagnosed the young dog with Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), a condition marked by a damaged blood vessel that, if untreated, leads to congestive heart failure.  Despite the serious diagnosis Dr. Cox remained confident that Lyssa would recover fully with surgical intervention.  “Animals that have the proper cardiac surgery can be cured of the condition and go on to live very long and healthy lives,” she said.


Determined to save Lyssa, and give her a chance at a happy forever home she never had, the Adoption Center staff turned to colleagues at the MSPCA’s world-class Angell Animal Medical Center for help.


Angell’s Cardiology Team Steps Up

Dr. Laste, part of a four-doctor cardiology team at Angell who directs the hospital’s minimally invasive thoracic surgical program, took on the task of saving Lyssa.  She and her team—with support from Angell’s board-certified anesthesiologist Jeffrey Wilson—carefully prepared Lyssa for her life-saving operation on June 20.  The surgery involved placing a specially designed plug into the end of the affected blood vessel.  The surgery, which lasted less than two hours, was made challenging by Lyssa’s small size (she weighs less than seven pounds).  In the end, however, Dr. Laste and her team prevailed; the plug had indeed repaired the problem.  Said Dr. Laste, “Lyssa did amazingly well during surgery and her prognosis is excellent.”

 The Angell Animal Medical Center cardiology team operates on Lyssa (credit: MSPCA-Angell)


After her recovery from the surgery Lyssa was placed on the adoption floor.  It was there that Kellie Olsen and her mother, Janet, met her last week.  Both Kellie and Janet were so moved by Lyssa’s story and knew she would be the dog for them.  Said Kellie of the experience adopting Lyssa: “My heart immediately went out to this very sweet dog who—but for this life-saving surgery—would never have the opportunity to live in a loving forever home.  We are so honored that we can provide her that and look forward to many years with her!”




Angell Animal Medical Center cares for more than 50,000 animals a year and is one of the most acclaimed veterinary practices in the country. Angell has 67 doctors and an experienced support staff who work as a team to ensure high quality general wellness, emergency and specialty care. With 31 board-certified specialists and technology that includes an MRI specifically designed for animals, Angell is committed to providing a broad range of specialized expertise and experience, but delivers this care with one-on-one compassion that animals and their owners deserve. Angell is open for emergencies 24 hours of every day of the year, and offers night and weekend appointments with our specialty services.


The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals. Please visit www.mspca.org.