A full knee replacement for their beloved boxer cross is the price of love for a Ballarat family.
For the Mowats, the $8000 operation was not a choice or even an argument. They had to save Phoebe.
They had a family meeting and despite the cost equalling a holiday or school fees, they decided four more years of Phoebe wasn’t really a hard decision.
“There was a financial sacrifice that the whole family had to embrace and everyone did,” Reg Mowat said.
Phoebe’s sister Murphy had to be put down not long before the operation.
“With Murphy it was pretty much palliative care for the last year,” Mr Mowat said.
“It made it easier to choose for Phoebe because of the difference, Murphy was so obviously not well – she (Phoebe) just had a bad knee.”
The specialist surgery is one of just 50 carried out by veterinary surgeon Dr Chris Preston since he brought the practise to Australia.
Phoebe’s arthritis was so bad her local vet took one look at the joint and referred her to the Melbourne specialist, one of only two vets in the country who perform the procedure.
“There’s probably less than 10 people in the world doing knee surgery which is sort of crazy because knee replacements are the number one cause of lameness in dogs,” Dr Preston said.
The proliferation of pet insurance allowed more people to access a “human level of care” for their animals, Dr Preston said.
“As a rule of thumb I would be doing more complex surgeries as the years tick by, if the pet is insured and the cost is $7000 they’ll (pet owners) go for it,” he said.
“It allows us as specialists to give a human level of care to animals.”
The procedure, while extremely rare for dogs, was “stock standard” for humans, he said.
Dr Preston has even had human orthopedic surgeons scrub in to oversee his surgery and also performs spinal surgery, knee reconstruction and hip and elbow replacements.
“The good part about it for us is we’re not shooting blind, it’s one medicine concept, crossing the species.
“The knee is so similar anatomically, the principles of human knee replacements apply to dogs.”
Shadae Shaw said Phoebe’s quality of life was the most important thing.
“As long as she’s happy and healthy that’s all that matters.”
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