Four Paws Helps Injured Bulgarian Dog

An autologous skin graft is performed to replace tissue lost in a dog fight.

Johnny is prepped for a skin transplant in Bulgaria by, from left, Four Paws veterinarian Stefan Deskov, nurse Madlena Gizdova and wound expert Dieter Ponweiser. Inset, Johnny and his deep wound days before the procedure.

Hristo Vladev/Four Paws International

A stray dog that lost a lot of skin in a fight with another animal is recovering after a three-hour autologous skin graft procedure.

The operation was performed Dec. 18 in Sofia, Bulgaria, at a veterinary clinic operated by the animal welfare group Four Paws International.

The 3-year-old dog, named Johnny, was missing a chunk of skin from his back when he was brought to the hospital in late October. Ruling out the possibility of a burn injury, veterinary staff reached out to Four Paws science director Sabine Hartmann, DVM. Dr. Hartmann then contacted Austrian wound expert Dieter Ponweiser, who agreed to help Johnny for free.

Ponweiser brought with him the CelluTome Epidermal Harvesting System, manufactured by Texas-based Kinetic Concepts Inc., to transfer epidermal micrografts from Johnny’s shaved underside to the wound site.

“The main advantage of this method is that the recovery period is much shorter in comparison to a conservative treatment, much less painful compared to classic skin transplants and there is no risk of infection,” Four Paws reported.

Before the operation Johnny was given drugs and daily bandage changes, a routine that caused him “a lot of stress and pain,” according to Four Paws.

Until Ponweiser was contacted and autologous skin grafting recommended, “Prospects were for a several-month-long and painful recovery,” the group added.

Johnny will be put up for adoption after his recovery.

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