Last Hope K9 Rescue recently entered into a heated legal battle with a foster that had objections to the rescue’s treatment plan. The conflict arose when a foster dog named Kirklin developed complications after leg surgery, leading both sides to argue about a possible amputation.
Kirklin is a lovable Pit Bull that came into the care of Last Hope K9 Rescue in 2020. He was originally adopted by a family soon after his arrival, only to be returned due to his high energy. This is when a foster with the organization named Michelle Begovic stepped up and offered to foster him.
Unfortunately, Kirklin fractured his wrist while on a walk with his foster mom. The Last Hope K9 Rescue immediately had him seen by their veterinarian, where it was determined that he would have a metal plate installed to heal the fracture.
His surgery was a success, and they were instructed to have Kirklin on strict exercise restriction for eight weeks. This is where things start to get complicated.
Whether it was due to improper restriction or an unpreventable complication, Kirklin soon developed an infection in the joint where the plate was installed. Kirklin was in immense pain and could not bear weight on the leg, so the rescue had to determine their plan of action. Their veterinarian determined that the leg should be amputated.
“The veterinary partners that we rely on as an organization have advised that amputation of the leg is the most clear-cut pathway to recovery. He is suffering in great pain but his happy-go-lucky nature and pain medication masks this.” – Last Hope K9 Rescue
The rescue knew that while leg amputation would have a major impact on Kirklin, many dogs go on to live happy lives on three legs. They assumed everyone would be on board with this plan, but that was not the case.
Michelle was deeply invested in Kirklin’s care at this point and was not thrilled with the treatment plan the rescue had in mind. Against the rescue’s guidance, Michelle had Kirklin seen by another veterinarian.
Michelle learned at this appointment that amputation could potentially be avoided with the use of antibiotic therapy and pain control. She then told the rescue she did not want Kirklin’s leg to be amputated, and would rather wait and see if the antibiotic therapy would be successful.
When the rescue stated that they would be following the advisement of their vet, Michelle not only refused to follow the plan, she also refused to give the dog back to them. She did not want the leg amputated, and was adamant about her desire to attempt antibiotic therapy first. Michelle decided to hire a lawyer and seek legal action to allow her to keep Kirklin.
From one standpoint, we completely understand the desire to save Kirklin’s leg. Having all four legs would make his life easier, and avoiding another surgery is always best. It is also very clear that Michelle loves him dearly.
The other side of the argument states that leg amputation is the most straightforward path to recovery, as there will be no possibility of systemic infection from waiting to see if antibiotic therapy works.
Both legal teams began an intense battle to determine who has the rights over Kirklin’s care. Kirklin did belong to the rescue at the end of the day, but Michelle was now willing to adopt Kirklin and pay for all of his medical expenses. In the meantime, Kirklin was receiving daily antibiotics and pain control and was apparently beginning to improve.
“We came with our hands open, saying we would pay for surgery and pay for care of the dog. The dog is perfectly fine. Just let us adopt it.” – Michelle’s lawyer
The rescue filed for an emergency injunction that would remove Kirklin from Michelle’s care, but it was denied due to the judge agreeing that Kirklin was not in immediate danger. At the end of much argument back and forth, the two sides finally came to a settlement.
Both sides agreed to allow Michelle the ability to adopt Kirklin and determine his medical care going forward. Michelle has recently shared that Kirklin is about to start his next round of antibiotic therapy and that he is showing massive improvement.
This conflict is very complicated, as it’s clear that both sides love Kirklin and want what’s best for him. What do you think about this situation and the outcome?