A Net of Grace

Dog Survived Throw from Balcony, Treated at LSU Vet Med ER; Adopted and Thriving in Connecticut
Levon at the beachOriginally published January 5, 2021 

It was Halloween 2018. The quarreling couple became so loud that a neighbor stepped outside to see what the racket was all about. Just as she did so, she witnessed the girlfriend throw her boyfriend’s puppy off of a second-story balcony in a Baton Rouge apartment complex. The neighbor-turned-Good-Samaritan rushed the six-month-old yellow Labrador retriever to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine for help.

Anne Katherine Landry, now a second-year veterinary student, was on duty as a veterinary technician in the Intensive Care Unit when he was brought in.

“We put him on the table and Virginie Wurlod, Dr.med.vet., MSc, DACVECC, DECVECC, assistant professor of emergency and critical care, stabilized him and checked to see that he was alert and responsive. His leg was badly broken. She put him on a pain management plan,” said Anne Katherine of Delcambre, La.

Radiographs revealed a left distal femoral fracture. Levon’s team administered hourly treatments, gave medications, took temperature, pulse, respiration rate, changed his wound dressing, and walked him outside.

“We wondered how anyone could do what they did to him. He’d be wagging his tail and was so kind and forgiving toward people. He was still wanting to interact with us,” Anne Katherine said.

Levon remained in the hospital for two days. LSU Vet Med’s Good Samaritan Fund, established for the medical care of homeless animals in need, covered his expenses. Annually, LSU Vet Med spends $65,578 on average on Good Samaritan cases.

“We see about five to 10 Good Samaritan cases a week,” Dr. Wurlod said.

The 350 or more animals in need of emergency treatment brought each year by Good Samaritans to LSU Vet Med 24-hour emergency facility receive emergency services, critical care, testing, and ICU care. Ownerless animals often stay at the school for days or even weeks as they heal.

Good Sam patients are scanned for microchips and posted to the Lost and Found Pets of Baton Rouge Facebook page in an effort to locate their owners.

“We’re able to take animals like Levon from cruel and heartbreaking situations, treat them, and make their lives better. Imagine the life he would have lived, and look at him now,” Anne Katherine said.

When he was stable enough to be discharged from ICU, Companion Animal Alliance took him into their care in early November 2018. CAA posted on their social media page for fosters that they needed a foster home commitment before they scheduled surgery. Laurie Lynn Drummond had fostered other dogs with medical needs for CAA and expressed interest in Levon. Anne Katherine, who’d been a student in Laurie’s Animal Welfare service learning class, saw her comment and messaged Laurie about her experience of the dog at LSU Vet Med. Laurie picked up Levon the day after he arrived at CAA. Laurie fostered him for four days before his amputation surgery could be scheduled. She picked him up the afternoon of his surgery and did his post-surgery care. She re-named him Anders and gave him a temporary home while he fully healed and was ready for adoption.

Laurie’s acquaintance mentioned a couple in Connecticut looking to adopt a dog.

Tasha Mechne and Kim Gunter of Stratford, Conn., adopted the dog at eight months old and named him Levon after Levon Helm of The Band. Tasha is operations office assistant in Fairfield University’s Provost’s Office, and Kim is director of Fairfield’s First-Year Writing Program. After the Fairfield colleague of Kim’s connected the couple to Laurie, a writing instructor in the LSU English Department, they emailed regularly about Levon as he healed.

“It was one of those ‘you need to meet each other’ because our mutual friend knew we were planning to get a rescue dog,” Tasha said.

“Laurie is so devoted to making sure her fosters get really good homes. We messaged back and forth about Levon. Finally, CAA approved our adoption. I’m very grateful for that organization and to all those who helped Levon,” Tasha said.

“There was something about his face. You could see his soul. Looking at his pictures, you could sense a kind, dear boy, so loving, and that’s him. That’s exactly what we got,” Tasha said.

Levon made the two-and-a-half-day road trip from Louisiana to Connecticut in a Rescue Road Trips 18-wheeler. Rescue Road Trips is a nonprofit that provides low-cost transports for rescue dogs in the South to points North. Kim and Tasha received videos of Levon at the various stops. Waiting with anticipation in a crowd of adopters as the truck arrived, Kim and Tasha heard their dog’s name called and he was led to them. He was finally home.

“We never thought we could love another dog as much as we loved our rescued pug, ‘Sadie,’ but our love for Levon even exceeds what we’ve known. I’m evolving as an animal lover. Animals speak to us on a deeper level than language. They break down our shell. We have these animals that help us leapfrog over obstacles to growth.,” Tasha said.

Now, Tasha, Kim, and Levon go to the woods for walks and the river for swims. At first, Levon was tentative. He had no experience being near water. He quickly realized he could fetch and discovered he enjoyed swimming.

“Seeing that is the biggest joy in my life,” Tasha said, even as she is reminded every day about Levon’s sad past.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking. Something in the way he moves or behaves reminds me. But it’s easy to forget he has only three legs because he’s so fast and agile. If he had four legs he’d get everything off the counter he could. He loves dish towels,” Tasha said.

She used to get angry about the people who abused him. Now she focuses on the fact that he’s living his best life.

“I feel so grateful he’s here with us,” she said.


Sandra Sarr, MFA

Communications Manager