Karen Bostick, who makes her home in Boise, is a loving and attentive dog owner. When she adopted a Maltese-Poodle puppy, it was a decision she had researched and prepared for. Karen and Tinks - As the daughter of a general practice veterinarian, Karen took his care seriously. She enrolled Tinks with pet insurance and he had regular appointments with a trusted family veterinarian. However, this educated pet owner was not aware of the advancements in specialty care now available in veterinary medicine—right here in the Treasure Valley— and it almost cost Tinks’ life.

At just five years of age, Tinks became ill. “I could tell something was very wrong, and my concerns grew, especially over the next two days,” Karen said, “He was extremely weak and had lost almost two pounds, considering he started at under eight pounds, I knew he was fading fast.”

Tinks’ general practice veterinarian correctly diagnosed him with Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), a condition where the patient’s immune system begins attacking his own red blood cells. The patient will become weak, jaundiced, and without the quick care, they will often die. Even with the prescription medications, Tinks condition deteriorated. It was at this critical point that Karen was informed a blood transfusion was her last hope and she was referred for specialty care at WestVet.

Dr. Victoria Ochoa, one of our Veterinary Specialists, oversaw Tinks care. How does a specialist differ from a general practice veterinarian? In addition to completing undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, Board Certified Veterinary Specialists (similar to human medical counterparts) have completed an internship and residency in their specialized field and successfully passed rigorous examinations.

As a Board Certified Small Animal Internist,  Dr. Ochoa’s expertise is diagnosing and treating diseases of the internal systems including anemia, pancreatic disease, coughing and breathing problems, Endocrine diseases, such as adrenal tumors, diabetes, or thyroid disorders, kidney/bladder disease, liver inflammation, etc.Karen and Tinks at WestVet
Even with the intense treatments Tinks was facing, Karen says providing the specialty care gave him a fighting chance at life. “I was grateful to be offered the choice to pursue the advanced care,” Karen said.
Pictured at right during their treatment at WestVet, after several blood transfusions and medications, Tinks did improve. Karen credits Tinks’ fighting spirit, the love of his family, and the expertise of Dr. Ochoa with saving him. Now, at nine years old, he is a wiggly, happy, joyful bundle—with many, many more years of life ahead of him.

While he has not been permanently changed from this, Karen has. Her new focus is to inform pet owners about the myriad of options now available in specialty veterinary care. She and her sister founded BlackwellKing, a Veterinary Specialty Recruiting and Consulting agency. They recruit veterinary specialists for employment nationally and internationally. You can read Tinks’ story in her words on her blog HERE

Karen works tirelessly with the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation, a nonprofit organization which works to advance research and education in veterinary internal medicine. There are many amazing survivor stories posted HERE (and you will see Tinks’s survival story here soon). 

In addition, you may want to check out these incredible stories of animal survivors who benefited from veterinary specialty care posted HERE.


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