Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

College of Veterinary Medicine treats animals of all shapes and sizes.

December 2, 2019

Cornell Vets Save ‘Mabel’ the Chihuahua

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When Mabel — a 16-year-old Chihuahua and longtime patient of Cornell Hospital for Animals — lay close to death while in transit back to the University for treatment in June, small-animal surgery resident Dr. Jared Baum carried out a house call, which extends outside of his expected role. He drove 90 minutes from campus at night to assist her.

Mabel ultimately survived, but it was a close call.

“Because she was a pet we had been working with for a while … we felt a duty of care to try and reach out to them when they were in distress in this situation in the middle of the night,” Prof. Galina Hayes, clinical sciences, who accompanied Baum, told The Sun.

Mabel received a breathing tube at the CUHA in 2016, but her difficulty in breathing escalated over this past summer. When Baum encouraged owners Chris and Mariesa Hughes to return Mabel to Cornell, her rapidly deteriorating condition lead them to stop at the nearest emergency veterinary hospital in the Catskills.

However, to the Hughes’ shock, Baum met them at the veterinary clinic, supplied with the equipment that allowed him to stabilize Mabel and transport her back to the University.

“I work with a lot of wonderful clinicians here at the hospital, but very few of them, including myself, would have the automatic reaction when taking a phone call like that to immediately jump in the car and drive a few hours in the middle of the night,” Hayes said of Baum’s late-night interception.

Hayes said she and Baum acted less as rescuers, and more like “facilitators” who monitored Mabel as she was transported.

Nonetheless, Mabel’s owners — who run a dog shelter themselves — were so grateful that they created a “Dr. Baum Compassion Award” to honor his efforts, a $2,500 gift that the Hughes will award annually to a CUHA employee who demonstrates “exemplary compassion.” Baum received the first award at a College of Veterinary Medicine award celebration over the summer.

“That’s just who [Baum] is,” Hayes said. “It wouldn’t really matter who called or the circumstances in which they called. If he felt needed and called upon professionally, he would instantly be there.”

This is not the first time that Cornell veterinarians have made a dramatic life-saving call. In July 2019, a sizable sliver of wood that had impaled a horse was carefully extracted. Back in September, a black bear cub was rushed to the vet hospital emergency room when a collision with a car broke its foreleg.