Please save my dog

Seven On Your Side
April 30, 2010 2:49:42 PM PDT
The dog was dying, suffering from Leshmaniosis, a disease common in Europe, but almost non-existent here. The treatment which could save him was rushed from Italy. But hit a dead stop at JFK airport.

"He was bleeding extensively out his nose. He was unable to clot. The disease had basically penetrated his whole body." That was the dismal diagnosis from Dr. Jill Shiffman, head veterinarian with Franklin Animal Hospital.

"Oh it was frightening," said Nero's owner, Patrick Bianco. "There was nothing the poor dog could do. There was a point contemplating if we're not able to get this we might have to put 'em down."

Two weeks ago, Patrick and Sami Bianco faced the decision to end 7 year old Nero's suffering. The regal Cane Corso, a rare breed that was once sent into battle in front of Roman Gladiators, fell victim to a tiny parasite while just a pup in Italy. Recently, the disease flared up.

The medicine ordered to treat it, available only in Europe, got stuck in customs at JFK airport. "We could not get a release," said the frustrated vet. "It was heartbreaking. We knew because the drug to save his life was within reach. We could not get it."

Nero's vets and nurses at Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital tried cutting through the red tape. "They asked for a description in English, we complied."

For a week Donna Pontrelli, from the animal hospital, sent emails faxes and called the FDA and carrier DHL to try and get the medicine cleared.

"I called channel 7 because I'm like we need some help this dog needs medication to save his life!" said Donna.

We got Donna's call at 7 On Your Side on a Friday at 4 o'clock and knew it was race against the clock to reach the right people to release Nero's medicine before the weekend. After our calls DHL and FDA quickly mobilized.

A contact at the FDA, Ira Allen, working on his blackberry late into the night from Washington, pushed Nero's case to top priority and by 7pm?

"By 7 o'clock we got the news it was cleared and we would pick it up," said Nero's relieved owner. "We didn't believe it."

But the problem remained, getting the medication back from JFK. That's when Donna from the animal hospital jumped in her car and drove to airport cargo, met by reps from the FDA and DHL personally, standing by to hand over the drug.

"If he didn't get his medication he basically would have died," said Dr. Shiffman.

The Bianco's got the medicine that night...

And Nero got his injections in time to play many more days.

"I don't believe it ever would have happened without 7 on your side. And its just terrific to have any organization like yours that can help people like us who were are wits end with no place else to go."


Story by: Nina Pineda

Produced by: Steve Livingstone CONNECT WITH NINA PINEDA