Dog hit by golf cart defeats death three times after treatment at UF

Members of the UF Small Animal Hospital emergency and critical care team stand with Jamie McAllister of Ocala,her daughter, Ella, and Rupert, their dog, on the day of his discharge.
Members of the UF Small Animal Hospital emergency and critical care team stand with Jamie McAllister of Ocala,her daughter, Ella, and Rupert, their dog, on the day of his discharge.

A young dachshund named Rupert, run over by a golf cart in Ocala on Feb. 19, is now living a charmed life after being resuscitated three times by University of Florida veterinarians.

Rupert was discharged Feb. 27 from UF’s Small Animal Hospital after being treated for eight days in the hospital’s intensive care unit. His owner, Jamie McAllister, who lives in Michigan but travels back and forth to Ocala during the winter months, could not be happier.

“To say Rupert is a miracle is an understatement,” McAllister said. “If it weren’t for the doctors and staff at UF, I don’t know where we would be.”

McAllister said Rupert had jumped off a friend’s golf cart while she was driving and rolled under one of the vehicle’s tires. She immediately took him to her veterinarian, who advised her that Rupert should be taken to the UF Small Animal Hospital due to the severity of his injuries.

“His veterinarian called me in Gainesville to say Rupert’s family wanted to bring him to UF for treatment of severe pulmonary contusions, but he was not stable enough for transport,” said Ashley Allen, D.V.M., a clinical assistant professor of emergency and critical care at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.

“So we teamed up: Dr. Gareth Buckley took over the intensive care unit, and Dr. Jennifer Martinez, student Denae Campanele and I loaded up the van we use to transport patients on oxygen, and drove to Ocala to get Rupert,” she explained.

The group stopped at the UF Pet Emergency Treatment Services clinic in Ocala to pick up a ventilator and additional supplies. They then headed to the Town and Country Animal Hospital, where Rupert went into cardiac arrest soon after they arrived. His heart had stopped beating due to internal bleeding and depletion of oxygen, the doctors said.

“We performed CPR and got him back, but he proceeded to code two more times in the hour we spent there trying to get him stable enough for transport,” Allen said. “We brought him to UF by using the transport ventilator, as he was unable to maintain oxygenation on his own, and he stayed on a ventilator for five days.”

Initially, Rupert had a severe lung injury, but he gradually improved and was taken off the ventilator on Feb. 24.

“He died three times, and the second and third time, the veterinarians called me to tell me he wasn’t going to make it,” said McAllister. “Then, they called right back to say he was alive and had a strong heartbeat.”

The veterinarians asked McAllister if she wanted them to continue to work on Rupert, she said.

McAllister, an equestrian competitor, said she was not ready to give up on the dog she got at a horse show in her home state of Michigan. A rescue group was trying to find homes for a litter of dachshund puppies and McAllister’s daughter Ella told her about them.

“I thought he was fighting so hard, we needed to give him every chance possible,” she said.

McAllister was told Rupert had a 20 percent chance of survival once he was taken off the ventilator. She was able to visit him once he was removed from the machine.

“When I put my head next to him, he actually stood up and started licking my face,” she said. “It was amazing. Every day thereafter, he just got stronger and stronger until I could finally take him home.”

Allen said several of UF’s intensive care technicians and many different doctors were involved in Rupert’s extensive care.

“All in all, Rupert spent a little over a week in the hospital and was discharged, wagging his tail, to a family that loves him unconditionally,” Allen said. “His story is a great reminder to all of us who work daily with the sickest of emergency pets that the collaborative team effort and excellent patient care these animals require can sometimes have an excellent outcome.”