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Sergeant’s Afghan Puppy Saved by Donated Surgery


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After making a trip half way around the world to live with his rescuer, a former war dog is recovering from life saving surgery to repair a liver shunt, and local charity Vet-I-Care is covering the $12,000 bill.

Stationed in Burlington, N.J., Army Sergeant Brian Assanowicz rescued the Anatolian Shepherd last year while on duty in Afghanistan. Assanowicz and his wife Bonnie spent most of their savings to bring Sultan back to the US to live with them in September of 2010. After arriving in the US, Sultan’s health began to decline, and NorthStar Vets in Robbinsville, NJ determined that Sultan was afflicted with a birth defect: a portosystemic shunt that threatened to take his life if left untreated.

According to a report from NorthStar Vets, “Sultan’s clinical symptoms included anorexia, depression, lethargy, clumsiness, weakness and presented an immediate danger to the quality of his life. Dogs with portosystemic shunts reflect the failure of the liver to eliminate various toxic matter, absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.The specialists recommended a non-invasive surgical procedure called Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt Caval Stent and Coil Enbolization.”

Thanks to the generosity of Clarksburg, NJ based charity Vet-I-Care, the surgery was successful – and totally free. Vet-i-care is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit foundation committed to helping families secure the resources required to provide much needed specialty and emergency care for their pets

Assanowicz returns to Afghanistan Friday in order to complete his tour of duty. During those six months Sultan will live with Bonnie as the two await Assanowicz’s return.

“It makes me feel a little better to know that my wife has this big lug to watch over her,” Sgt. Assanowicz said.


Sgt. 1st Class Brian Assanowicz and Sultan at a press event at NorthStar VETS, a trauma center for animals in Robbinsville on Tuesday, June 14, 2011.