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  • Writer's pictureStream Valley Vet

Kayla & the Arrow

Kayla's family shares her "arrow-ing tail" of injury, rescue, and recovery.  Remarkable as this incident may seem, this is the type of injury that could occur with any pet.  How would you react?  What would you do?

September 14, 2013 was one of our very first crisp fall days that everyone looks forward to.  We were doing some yard work in the front of the house, and our 4-year-old Brittany, Kayla, was on the electronic collar that allows her to run up to a half mile on her own but that still lets us call her home.  All of the sudden, my husband and I heard a howling from the back of the house.  We looked at each other in bewilderment, wondering what that sound could be.  We ran towards the back of the house where there is a buffer of trees between our housing development and the one behind ours in the Broadlands.  My husband found her first, and he quickly learned that Kayla had become impaled on an arrow that was lost last fall when the boys were doing archery practice and one of the arrows sailed over the target.  Despite searching for weeks, we couldn't find it.  The point of the arrow as in the ground, and the feather end with a notch was inside of her.  We didn't know if the arrow had broken off over the winter or how much as inside of her.  She runs like a deer and must have landed right on the end of the arrow with all of her weight.

My husband's first words were, "Call Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital," our veterinarian who is right around the corner from our house.  It was noon on a Saturday, and they were able to come right over.  Dr. Corey gave her a sedative and got on the phone with the Veterinary Surgical Center in Leesburg.  They discussed medicines and procedures while I held our howling dog as we sat on the wooded floor getting bitten by chiggers.  My husband got another arrow so we had an idea of what the end of the arrow looked like.  Dr. Corey brought a pair of cutters and held the arrow while my husband cut the arrow shorter to her skin for ease in transporting.  Dr. Corey, (Veterinary Assistant & Facilities Manager) Don, and (Licensed Veterinary Technician) Wendy worked to get Kayla onto a stretcher, and we all carried her out of the woods to my van, which became an ambulance as we drove to the surgical center.  Wendy rode with us, checking Kayla's vital signs and monitoring her status until we got there. 

When we arrived, the emergency room staff was there to greet us and immediately attend to Kayla because Stream Valley called ahead and provided all the information the surgical center needed.  It was so helpful that Stream Valley called ahead so that when we arrived, they knew the situation, we were taken right away, and we didn't have to tend to paperwork during this emotional and stressful time.

After they examined Kayla, we were taken to an exam room where we met Dr. Danielle Lewis, who explained to us what might happen when the arrow came out, what our wishes were, and how much it would cost.  Dr. Holly Phelps was the surgeon who pulled out the arrow, not knowing whether a major artery had been pierced, causing Kayla to bleed out.  To the shock of Dr. Phelps, the staff, my husband, and myself, the arrow had missed all internal organs.  The arrow entered her just below her stomach and a bit to the side.  When the surgeon pulled out the arrow, we learned that the arrow inside of her measured 7 1/2 inches, complete with the plastic feathers and the notch end of the arrow that had become embedded in the muscle of her vertebrae (otherwise, the arrow would have come out on the other side of her).  Dr. Phelps explained to us that the aortic artery branches into a "V" to provide blood to each leg, and the arrow went right in between the two branches without striking the aortic artery.  Dr. Phelps stitched up the muscles that were pushed aside by the arrow and closed her up with 20 staples.  We went home while Dr. Phelps and her staff made Kayla comfortable and monitored Kayla overnight.  They expected her to stay two days, but she was doing so well that we were able to take her home about 24 hours after admittance.

The Veterinary Surgical Center, Dr. Phelps, and Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital called us and spoke with each other every couple of days, discussing and coordinating Kayla's care over the next two weeks.  After two weeks, Kayla had her staples out, and the wound has healed very nicely.  Dr. Phelps says there is no neurological damage.

It was three hours from the time we initially found Kayla in the woods to the time she was at the surgical center having the arrow pulled out.  We are extremely grateful to Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital for their quick response and management.  We feel it was instrumental in Kayla's success that they were able to give Kayla sedatives that helped her withstand the pain until she was in a stable surgical environment.  We are amazed at the outcome and how lucky Kayla was!


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