Vets Removed Tiny Terrier’s Ears & Eye to Save Her Life. Her Tail Never Stopped Wagging

Rescue organizations do their best to give every dog in their care a fair shot. Euthanasia is never the first option on any rescuer’s mind, and vets, shelter staff, and animal advocates bend over backward to try to save dogs from an unnecessary end. But when 7-year-old dog Mackenzie came to the San Diego Humane Society, her condition was so severe that staff made the difficult decision to place her on the list for euthanasia.

Vets Removed Tiny Terrier's Ears & Eye to Save Her Life. Her Tail Never Stopped Wagging

The Diagnosis No One Wanted to Hear

Mackenzie had a severe ear condition called end-stage otitis, which made her ear canals swell, narrow, and eventually turn into bone-like material. This caused her ears to harden and fuse with her skull, causing her a lot of pain. Her ear tissue was also badly ulcerated and infected.Veterinary staff quickly realized there was nothing they could do to save Mackenzie’s poor ears.

Thankfully, the team at Lionel’s Legacy—a senior dog rescue in southern California—heard about Mackenzie before it was too late. 

Collaborating To Save Mackenzie’s Life

Together, the San Diego Humane Society and Lionel’s Legacy teams created a plan to help Mackenzie. 

Veterinary staff from the San Diego Humane Society would perform all the surgeries Mackenzie needed before she could be adopted. Lionel’s Legacy gave Mackenzie a permanent foster placement in their care for her to recover from surgery and eventually be put up for adoption. With immense generosity and a willingness to work together these two groups dove into the complicated series of medical problems affecting Mackenzie. 

Vets Removed Tiny Terrier's Ears & Eye to Save Her Life. Her Tail Never Stopped Wagging

Major Surgery Leaves Mackenzie with One Eye & No Ears

Mackenzie underwent total ear canal ablation—a surgery to remove the damaged tissue from her inner ears. Unfortunately, her condition was so severe that they had to remove her outer ears—AKA ear flaps or pinna. The ulcerations and infection in her ears had spread to Mackenzie’s face, and her eye was also removed to treat the resulting facial nerve damage. 

How Leaning On Community In a Time of Need Saved Mackenzie

“Lionel’s Legacy had just completed major surgeries on three other dogs at a cost of about $25,000,” says Laura Oliver, recalling when she and the team at Lionel’s Legacy had first heard of Mackenzie.

Laura is the director of operations and the medical coordinator for Lionel’s Legacy and is intimately familiar with what it costs to rehabilitate a medically complex senior dog. “We really couldn’t afford to take on another cost like that so soon. We were so excited when the shelter said [they would cover her veterinary care!] Today, Mackenzie is alive because they did!”

Vets Removed Tiny Terrier's Ears & Eye to Save Her Life. Her Tail Never Stopped Wagging

It’s impossible to do everything in life alone, and Mackenzie’s road to the future has been paved by an entire community of dedicated animal lovers. 

She’s the Perfect Dog

MacKenzie is a resilient and loving little 12lb terrier who has faced adversity with incredible strength and grace. Despite losing her hearing and undergoing multiple surgeries McKenzie’s heart has only grown bigger.

She thrives on the love and care of her humans, reveling in cuddles on the sofa and short morning walks. This little girl’s gentle nature extends to her interactions with other animals, as she is good with both dogs and cats. A good eater who rarely barks, she sleeps soundly through the night and is reliably housebroken, making her a cherished companion to the lucky family that claims her for themselves.


Want to adopt Mackenzie? Contact Lionel’s Legacy or fill out an adoption application online! Even if Mackenzie isn’t the right dog for you, let this be your sign to consider adopting a senior dog from your local shelter or animal rescue.

Vets Removed Tiny Terrier's Ears & Eye to Save Her Life. Her Tail Never Stopped Wagging

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