marks on a rural property in South Georgia led to a
black Labrador lying beside a fence. The young dog’s
injuries were too severe for him to walk on his own. And
with no owners to claim him, the dog’s future was
Croft, an animal control officer for Moutrie Colquitt
County Humane Society, took the pup to see the local
veterinarian and the dog was given a name — Sheldon.
But Sheldon faced being euthanized if he couldn’t have
expensive surgery to repair two dislocated hips.
A trip to
Atlanta was the only hope: Surgeons for Strays, a
nonprofit combining the expertise of both orthopedic
surgery and veterinary medicine, agreed to save
using our expertise to help these animals,” Dr. John
Keating, an orthopedic surgeon, told The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution. “This is why we all went into
medicine — to do some good. To take care of something
that’s hurt and needs help.”
is a “human” orthopedist with a heart for helping
animals. In addition to his practice in Atlanta, he’s
in charge of orthopedic residents at Atlanta Medical
Center. As a longtime surgeon, Keating has the expertise
and tools to repair humans: the plates, the screws, the
drills. But it’s his teamwork with a veterinarian, Dr.
Michael Good, that makes the partnership unique. Good is
involved in all of the surgeries on the stray dogs and
to be the grownup in the room,” Good said.
doctors, including many of Keating’s residents at the
hospital, perform the surgeries for free, and only stray
animals are accepted. So far, the doctors have teamed up
to save the lives of more than 70 animals. Once the
animals are healed, they are returned to various rescue
groups and adopted.
is truly a win-win,” Good said.
underwent the first of two surgeries; he’ll undergo a
second surgery in the coming weeks to repair his second
hip, and is recovering at Good’s Cobb County clinic.
whose pets include four dogs and two cats, said it’s
easy to get attached to the animals he saves, and that
includes Sheldon. The animals sense that he and other
doctors have helped them heal, he said.
just the best dog,” Keating said. “He just wants to
love you. He wants to put his head in your lap.”
the lives of animals that would likely face death is
rewarding, the doctors say, and they hope to continue
donating their time and expertise to the vulnerable
four-legged population. But their efforts have also
drawn criticism, including questions about whether
doctors trained to treat humans should be involved in
surgeries on animals, and whether such a practice takes
business away from area veterinarians.
is adamant he isn’t trying to switch to veterinary
understand that community vets might be skeptical at
first blush, but none of the animals we treat have any
other options,” Keating said. “Every single animal
we have ever attended was homeless, without any
resources, and the vast majority were on death row or
languishing in rescues because nobody had the funds to
animals are healed and adopted, their stories have happy
endings. Plus, those pets will continue to need routine
veterinary care, helping community vets continue to earn
a living, Keating said.
the Surgeons for Strays doctors get to give furry
patients a second chance without having to deal with
medical insurance claims.
just go and do what I do and save lives,” Keating