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Cancer and Heartworm Disease Prevent Hero Dog Kabang from Undergoing Facial Reconstructive Surgery

This article originally appeared on my ongoing series of articles for Flexcin International, Inc as Cancer and Heartworm Disease Prevent Hero Dog Kabang from Undergoing Facial Reconstructive Surgery Have you heard the remarkable tale of Kabang, the Filipino hero dog?  It’s quite the inspirational and ongoing story of overcoming adversity.  In December, 2011 Kabang, a female, mixed breed pooch hailing from Zamboanga City, Philippines suffered severe injuries when a motorcycle’s wheel spokes lacerated her face.   Months later, she’s been diagnosed with both infectious and cancerous disease, which delayed the plan to surgically repair Kabang’s face.  This sounds like tough luck for any dog, much less one that traveled 7,000 miles from a foreign country to the U.S for surgery.

How Kabang lost her snout

The unfortunate circumstance leading to Kabang’s notoriety has led to worldwide praise of her efforts as a hero dog.  Reportedly, two young girls (Kabang’s owner’s daughter and niece) were about to be hit by a motorcycle.  Kabang intervened and took the blow to her face, severing her muzzle (including her nose) and upper jaw (mandible). She underwent treatment in the Philippines, but was left with severe facial deformities, scarring, and ongoing infection.

Kabang's worldwide attention funds reconstructive surgery

Kabang’s story soon spread and financial donations from over 20 countries helped to fund her travel and medical treatment.  In October 2012, Kabang was transported from the Philippines to Sacramento, CA for evaluation and treatment at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis.

Complications with Kabang revealed

In preparation for surgery to correct Kabang’s facial trauma, she underwent laboratory testing, which revealed heartworm disease.  Additionally, an internal medicine specialist diagnosed Kabang with an unusual cancer in her vagina called a Transmissible Venereal Tumor (TVT).  Both of these conditions originated in the Philippines.
Heartworm is a parasitic organism spread from the bite of an infected mosquito that is very prevalent in warm and humid parts of our country and world.

Dogs, too, can suffer from sexually transmitted diseases

In third world or less developed countries, packs of dogs are more likely to live on the street and mate (as they are typically not spayed or neutered).  As a result of sexual contact, these dogs can spread cancer cells leading to the eventual development of TVTs, which are nodules grown on the penis, prepuce (sheath covering the penis), vulva, and vagina.
TVTs and heartworm are preventable diseases, yet regions lacking veterinary medical resources often see these diseases rage out of control.

Kabang's first treatments

Kabang’s heartworm disease is being treated by a series of arsenic-based injections and must be resolved before she can safely be anesthetized for her facial surgery. Kabang has also undergone chemotherapy to address her TVT.  According to Gina Davis, Kabang’s primary care veterinarian at UC Davis, "there is no evidence of any remaining tumor" and“as far as we know she has been cured of the transmissible venereal tumor".  Davis also noted Kabang’s positive attitude as a “very friendly” and “happy little dog”.

Kabang's road to recovery

Ultimately, Kabang will return to her native country and with improved facial function and a lack of her reproductive organs (which ultimately led to her mating and developing the TVT).  Spaying and neutering dogs and cats is an important part of population control both at home and abroad. Please help spread Kabang’s story to increase the awareness of diseases affecting areas of the world lacking the access to medical care commonly provided to U.S. companion canines and felines.  Additionally, fundraising efforts to ensure Kabang receives needed ongoing care can be arranged through Feel free to wish Kabang well through the Care for Kabang Facebook page and give her a shout on Twitter (@CareForKabang).   Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond). Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook. Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format  
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