Dog receives fish skin treatment to help heal his severe burns

Archer, an Alaskan dog, was severely injured in January when his house caught fire. When firemen got on the site, they saw Archer engulfed in flames. When firefighters attempted to pick up the terrified dog, he bolted, leaving many people concerned for his safety.

Fortunately, Archer was discovered near the seashore not long after the fire and was promptly rushed to the veterinarian. Archer lives in Haines, Alaska, which is somewhat rural, and emergency veterinary services are scarce. Dr. Michelle Oakley, star of the Nat Geo WILD show "Dr. Oakley," has expertise assisting all animals and would give care in these scenarios.

However, because Dr. Oakley was returning from California at the time of the occurrence, Archer had to suffer a seven-hour vehicle travel through terrible weather to the nearest vet in order to receive treatment for his significant injuries. Archer was able to go home and begin his lengthy rehabilitation road with Dr. Oakley by his side after he was in a more stable state.

"We started with bandage changes and set up a burn unit in my office in town because we required a sterile atmosphere where you can keep everything clean," Dr. Oakley revealed the specific operation she built up to treat Archer to PEOPLE.

However, it became evident that Archer would want more assistance than she could offer, so she spoke with a burn specialist at The University of California, Davis. The physician suggested a novel technique that involves applying the skins of tilapia fish to the burns to enhance recovery. The specialist even paid Archer a visit and demonstrated the procedure to Dr. Oakley.

Archer quickly became covered in fish skin, giving him a scaly appearance that earned him the moniker "Archer the Dragonslayer."

"The alleviation was quick," Dr. Oakley said of the fish skins' effect on Archer. The poor dog suffered burns all over his body, but the lesions on his face were most painful.

The community came together to support Archer as well. While Dr. Oakley provided her with free treatment, Haines locals banded together to fund any further medical bills for Archer, which included a couple procedures, laser therapy, many bandage changes, and more.

Archer evolved from a fearful burn sufferer with excruciatingly pink skin and no fur to a totally healed and happy dog with only a quarter-sized bald area from the burns to his face over time with tons of love and fish skin.

Despite the fact that Dr. Oakley was instrumental in his recuperation, she still gives Archer the most of the credit owing to his kind, battling attitude. Even though he was in a lot of discomfort, he never failed to wag his tail at his several vet appointments.

In some ways, Archer's suffering has aided others in need of healing as well - Dr. Oakley now knows a lot more about treating burns as a result of Archer's trauma, and she's now able to apply her knowledge to other animals burned in fires.

"This one patient will help me assist so many animals," she explained.

Dr. Oakley considers the months-long effort to assist Archer heal to be a career highlight as well as one of the most fulfilling cases she's ever worked on.



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