Our Sympathies to Tom and Shelley

In San Pedro Animal Hospital News // No Comments


The best thing about being a “small town” veterinarian is that we get to know our patients and their families so well.   The worst thing about about being a small town veterinarian is losing one of our young patients unexpectedly.

Bella was the beloved companion of Tom and Shelley, and she even had her own blog about Belize – (go to  A 6 lb, three year-old Maltese, we first met her when she came in one day for grooming.  When she left that day she looked so adorable with her new haircut and pink bow that she became famous.  Every owner that came in with a Maltese for grooming after her said, “Please groom her and make her look just like that other Maltese I see around town named Bella!”

When she came in with urinary problems it was discovered that her bladder was full of bladder stones.  In a female dog this is rarely a serious problem, but for Bella, likely due to her exceptionally small size, it became very serious as her urinary tract became obstructed and she was unable to urinate the day of her surgery.  Even now we do not know if her problem was a tiny stone lodged within her urethra or if it was scar tissue which had built up over time.  But whatever the cause Bella had to undergo two surgeries before we were able to clear the obstruction enough for her to urinate normally again.  Her urinary tract disease was so severe that I recommended that she go to the United States to a specialty hospital where her urinary tract could be properly evaluated using a scope, a procedure called cystoscopy.  As this was not a reasonable course of action for her owners we did our best for Bella, but she developed what appeared to be peritonitis, a severe inflammation of her abdominal cavity which eventually took her life.

From the very beginning Bella was such a tolerant patient.  Allowing us to draw blood without squirming and cooperating with all her procedures despite all of the discomfort she was in from her urinary obstruction.  She was a fighter and she did not succumb to her disease until five days after her second surgery.

Veterinarians lose patients often compared to our counterparts, doctors with human patients.  But ask any committed veterinarian and they will tell you that there are certain losses that haunt us.  Sometimes it may be because of an error in judgement that was made.  Sometimes there was no error, but we wonder had we done things differently would there have been a different outcome.  And sometimes, as with Bella, even though we did our very best it just wasn’t good enough.  I think that Bella is a patient I will remember for a very long time.

All of us at San Pedro Animal Hospital would like to send our heartfelt sympathies to Bella’s family and friends, and especially Tom and Shelley who have been devastated by her loss.  We know that she touched so many lives, and thanks to the internet and Tom’s blog, she reached people all around the world and taught them about our little country of Belize.

There are millions of us dog lovers out there who understand that your loss was much more than just a little white dog.

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