Heather and Amie bring in their 10-year-old Staffie-cross Piggy. Piggy by name, Piggy by nature (she just loves her treats), she’s had a history of lameness in her back legs plus a suspected spinal problem. After three years of pain management, Heather and Amie want to see if there is anything that Noel can do for her.  When the scans reveal further complications, the family face a very difficult decision.


Rescue dog Piggy truly landed on all four paws when her family adopted her from a rescue centre that Amie had been working in at the time. Amie’s parents were not sure they wanted a dog in their life but were quickly taken in by Piggy and, after just a short while, they could not imagine life without their snorty and greedy canine family member!

Over the last three years Piggy had been facing problems in her knees and in her spine which the family had been treating medically. The family came to Fitzpatrick Referrals to see if a surgical solution to improve her quality of life was possible and so were referred to Professor Noel Fitzpatrick for further investigations.

Noel did a physical examination and took Piggy outside to see her walking. He strongly suspected that Piggy was suffering from arthrosis in her knees and bulging discs in her spinal cord. To confirm his suspected diagnosis and get a full picture, Noel took Piggy through for CT and MRI. It was an emotional time for Heather and Amie as they waited for the results.

Following Piggy’s scans, Noel’s suspicions were confirmed; Piggy had profound arthrosis of her right stifle and intervertebral disc degeneration in her lower back.  However, Noel also identified a distressing anomaly – a large bone tumour was found on the left side of Piggy’s pelvis.

It was incredibly difficult news for the family to hear. They loved Piggy very much and only wanted to find the best solution for her to get her wellbeing. However, it was difficult to perceive how Piggy could continue with medical management alone.  Surgical intervention would be very invasive and the prognosis would be particularly guarded because Piggy’s existing spinal and knee problems.  Noel did not recommend surgical intervention as he and the team didn’t feel that morally it was the right thing to do. Following extensive conversations to find the best option for their dear family member, Heather and Amie decided to let Piggy go while she was still under anaesthetic.

Taking on the role of guardian and carer for any animal comes with great responsibility, you have to make some tough decisions on their behalf and we all fear the day we have to make them. Saying goodbye is one of the toughest decisions you have to make as a family, and Heather, Amie and Sam did what they felt was right for Piggy. They have our unequivocal support.

Our most sincere sympathy and condolences go out Heather, Amie and Sam following the loss of lovely Piggy who had lived a good life. Thank you for loving as much as you do, because that unconditional and selfless love, even in all of its pain and difficulty, is what gives us the faith to keep going in what we do each and every day to serve the animals we care about so deeply.