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In the midst of a national tragedy, a small glimmer of good news

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When Jennifer McKay, DVM, began working to save the small dogs life, she had no idea she belonged to a friend of hers. A friend who had already lost her life in the same tragic event that nearly took the dogs. 

The dog, a nine-year-old miniature pinscher named Zoey, had been shot in her hind end during a horrific mass shooting that began late last Saturday in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. During the attack, which lasted 12 hours, the suspect, identified as Gabriel Wortman, 51, wore a police uniform and drove a car that resembled a police vehicle. 

Police put the death toll at 22, including McKay’s friend and Zoeys owner, Jamie Blair, and her husband, Greg. The couple had three boys, who not only just lost their parents but were now facing the possibility of losing their family pet in addition. 

McKay, a veterinarian at AAHA-accredited Central Nova Hospital in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that she first knew something big was going on early Sunday morning because her husband and father are volunteer firefighters, and their station had been taken over by police as a safe staging area. 

Shortly afterward, McKay got a call from a policeman with whom she’d worked on other cases. He asked her to meet him at Central Nova Hospital; a dog needed her help. 

Thats when McKay met Zoey. Although she told the CBC her initial hope wasnt great for the dogs survival, she was pleasantly surprised to find Zoey in shock but alive. McKay got to work. 

It wasn’t until she was in the middle of surgery that McKay found out whose dog she was frantically working to save. 

It definitely took a moment, McKay said, adding that the veterinary technician assisting her had to help her hold it together. 

It just brought so much more to the whole entire situation for all of us. Its pretty tough. But then you have to put yourself in a place where you know that you can do this one good thing for this family. 

McKay said she and her team knew they were going to do “everything within our power to keep this dog alive for [Jamie’s] boys.” 

The veterinarian said she and Jamie, whom she called “amazing,” had met at the local ice rink, where they would sit together and watch their sons play on the same hockey team. 

“We’re going to all miss her dearly, for sure,” McKay said. 

As for Zoey, she’s now doing much better, and is even starting to walk and eat already, McKay said. 

McKay has been in touch with the Blair boys to give them updates on Zoey’s progress. In the meantime, although many people have flooded the practice with offers to donate funds to pay for Zoey’s care, Central Nova is picking up the bill. And McKay is urging that donors support the Blair family instead. 

Reflecting on the whole situation, McKay said she’s happy the story is offering some comfort in such a tragic time, and healing Zoey is at least one way she could help the Blair family. 

Photo credit: © iStock/Denis_prof