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RAPS aims to save dog’s life with pacemaker 

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:13 PST, Wed January 6, 2021

The RAPS Animal Hospital is appealing to the community to help save the life of Rhoda, a seven-year-old Chihuahua-mix. Rhoda has an extremely low heartbeat and requires a pacemaker to save her life. 

On Giving Tuesday, the Regional Animal Protection Society announced an exciting financial assistance program for the holidays. As operator of the RAPS Animal Hospital, BC’s largest full-service, not-for-profit veterinary facility, RAPS will provide 100 per cent subsidies for in-hospital care to four pets whose families are affected by hardships due to COVID-19. Some households have multiple pets which will be cared for. 

The Regional Animal Protection Society, a no-kill animal-serving agency now celebrating 25 years of saving and improving the lives of animals, owns the RAPS Animal Hospital. RAPS’ mission is to help animals … and their people. 

“A number of inspiring stories came in and we are helping four families,” says Eyal Lichtmann, RAPS’ CEO. “Rhoda’s story is especially moving. She came to us for a general checkup and doctors discovered an alarmingly slow heart rate.” 

While the RAPS Animal Hospital is covering the costs for the animals chosen for this holiday assistance program, Rhoda’s case requires RAPS to engage a cardiac specialist and, of course, purchase the pacemaker. The cost is estimated at about $10,000. 

Robyn and Keith Wilson and their son, Leo, adopted Rhoda four years ago from a local rescue. She is about nine years old. The family had lost their dog two days earlier—and Rhoda was also suffering a loss. She gave birth to a litter of six puppies, three of whom died. 

“She was very healing for us in that period of grief,” says Robyn. “Then she quickly became my son's little sidekick.” 

Leo, who was 10 at the time, experiences anxiety and Rhoda became an instant (unofficial) service dog to him. 

“I think it's just her funny, obsessive, mothering nature,” says Robyn. “She left her puppies and she took on my son. She's always with him. She means everything to us.” 

The family has experienced hardships due to the pandemic—but a vet bill of thousands of dollars would upset any family’s budget. 

“Everyone's struggling right now,” Robyn says. “This was just a sucker punch.” 

A community mobilizing to save Rhoda’s life would be a holiday miracle, she says. 

“The community rallying around our little Rhoda is just so heartwarming, to know that it would buy her some more time,” Robyn says. “I'm just so full of gratitude even thinking about it.” 

“Since we opened the hospital less than three years ago, we have provided almost $2 million in partially or fully subsidized vet care to animals in households with low incomes or facing other challenges, as well as to first responders and other heroes,” says Lichtmann. “We recognize that helping animals very often means helping their people too. This new vision for RAPS has allowed us to assist ten times the number of animals each year than we were just five years ago.” 

Rhoda’s case is an example of innovation in veterinary care. Interventions such as heart surgery, long common in human medicine, are becoming more common in veterinary medicine. For example, RAPS Animal Hospital is home to Canada’s only hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility for animals, providing non-invasive healing care. It is one of many innovations in animal healthcare revolutionizing the veterinary sector. 

“Some people might think $10,000 is a lot to pay to save the life of a single animals,” Lichtmann acknowledged. “RAPS is a no-kill organization. We cherish the life of every animal. If we think we can save a life, and we have the capacity to do so, we will. A humane society values every life. We know there are people in the community who will step up and help us create a holiday miracle for this family.” 

Donations are welcomed at 


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