Mission Winter Texan Says Son Saved Dog's Life, Helped His Own Health

3 years 2 months 2 weeks ago Monday, February 26 2018 Feb 26, 2018 February 26, 2018 9:03 PM February 26, 2018 in News

MISSION – A Rio Grande Valley veterinarian says a good deed could be a costly lesson.

A Mission Winter Texan says an injured stray dog she found is helping her son cope with a deadly disease.

Patricia Van Auken says her son Paul was diagnosed with Mesothelioma last year, a deadly form of cancer that covers many internal organs.

Van Auken knows her son as a strong and active man. She tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS she still cannot believe the news she heard last May that he was very sick.

"Oh my goodness, it was a shock. He was in so much pain. He couldn't hardly even talk to us, he couldn't get enough breath to talk to us," she says.

She says Paul, who lives in Iowa, gained enough strength to travel down to Mission to see her last month. She says she knew it may have been the last time she saw him. 

When the two decided to go for a drive, they came across a dog on the side of the road bleeding badly.

"I got out and ran and he turned the car off and came, and everybody else that was – we had a full load, and everybody pretty much stayed in the car,” she recalls.

Van Auken says they called animal control and were told the owners would have to pay for the pickup, cremation and burial.

She notes no one claimed ownership of the dog when animal control ran a check so Paul asked if he could take care of him. 

She says he got the OK. He picked up the dog and carried it to a veterinarian.

Van Auken says he stayed with the dog for days before deciding he was going to bring the animal home to Iowa.

"He told the vet down here he wanted to take the dog back to Iowa," Van Auken says. “They said that they had to get him ready for travel to see if he would be able to, so they brought him here for overnight and he was fine. So they said that they would get him ready and they took him up there.”

Van Auken says since returning home, Paul has been looking for a permanent home for the dog. She says he doesn't know how much longer he will be alive to care for the pet.

"I think it was meant to be. I've told others that. I've seen such a change with Paul, I think it's a God thing that they both met and it's helping both of them," she notes.

Mission veterinarian Nikki LeJeune says, though Van Auken and her son had their hearts in the right place, it was actually dangerous that Paul grabbed the animal with his hands.

"Ideally, you want to try not to touch them with your bare hands. If you have gloves or a blanket or that sort, that would be best to wrap them up in it. But anything with teeth can bite and a lot of sick and scared animals will lash out with aggression," says LeJeune.

LeJeune adds Paul has done a good deed in taking care of the animal and it is not unusual for him to feel better in the process.

"The human, animal bond is real and it is very strong. So, there are scientific studies that show that owning a pet can reduce blood pressure, reduces stress," she adds.

LeJeune says studies show pets also release endorphins in their owners. She says this will aid Paul's overall health and help him cope with his illness. 

LeJeune says if you see an injured stray animal, try to get it to the closest animal shelter as soon as possible. This way, the owner of the animal can find it right away.

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