Hoka the Otter Pup

This is the story of Hoka. When he was just a couple of days old, someone brought him into our vet's clinic looking for help. This small puppy was scalped from ear to ear. This was a horrific and grievious injury and we were not sure that Hoka would survive. Our medical team was dispatched to try to save his life.

Our vet closed up his wound but he was left with no ears. She also treated him for shock and infection. She gave him a 20-30% chance of survival and luckily the head vet tech at the clinic offered to foster him, monitor him and feed him around the clock. He exceeded all expectations and THRIVED in spite of the grim prognosis.

Originally, we thought that a person had scalped this helpless puppy. He was on the local news and gathered quite a following. We offered a reward of $500 for more information that would lead to the rescue of the mom dog and any siblings as we wanted to ensure the family's safety

As we kept asking around for information, we found another litter mate, Jimmy Choo, and their mother, Prada. With further investigation, we concluded that Prada had likely been the one that scalped her own puppy. We do not know why. It could have been that at 10 months old, she was too young to be a good mother. It could have been that her environment at the time was too stressful for her to raise puppies. Or it could have been that she knew, deep down, that something was wrong with Hoka and it was instinctual. We were told she killed most of her other puppies as well, but we never got confirmation of this.

We amassed a HUGE team of veterinary specialists and Hoka was seen by a general practitioner who has become the local ear specialist and he said that he may be able to help Hoka once he was bigger, stronger and had had a CT scan. We started raising funds for these procedures.

The CT scan showed normal anatomy and the Dr gave the ok to proceed with his first ear surgery to create some openings to help drain the ears so he wouldn't get an infection. The surgery went great but it took a toll on his immune system due to the stress caused by the surgery.

Despite being fully vaccinated and completely healthy, Hoka contracted parvovirus. He had severe diarrhea and vomiting but we had no idea why. The Dr did some X-rays and ruled out blockage but we were still waiting on a couple more tests before we could confirm that it was parvo. He was hospitalized in intensive care for 5 days receiving treatment. Fortunately, he is very strong willed and he recovered. However, this hospitalization drained the rest of our reserves from the donations he had originally received. (Jimmy Choo, his littermate, did not become sick even though they have been housed together since infancy).

Now recently, he has been having ear trouble. He had an abscess in his new ear canal that needed to be drained and the ear drum was no longer able to be seen on one side. The emergency doctor placed a drain while we waited to see what the next step would be. This ear has now completely closed over but still had bacteria and pus inside of it.

A couple of days later when the wound culture came back, we found out he is battling MRSA in his left ear (a very resistant staph infection). It is severely infected and the medication for it is very hard on his kidneys but it is the only thing that could clear it. Hoka must receive daily, painful injections until he can have surgery again.

On top of all of this, Hoka has presented with some strange behaviors such as tail chasing (more than what would be considered to be normal) and circling. He needed to see a neurologist about these and she was concerned that he had an infection and/or scarring in his brain from either a congenital defect, the trauma he suffered at days old or as a result of the infection. She wanted him to get an MRI. The only thing that seems to calm him at this point is car rides, so his foster mom is taking him out A LOT.

We have been told that he also needs either a TECA or TECABO but are waiting for the surgeon to review all of his records (which at this point are from 4 other hospitals). which generally costs around $5-7,000 per side. A TECA is a total ear canal ablation. They take everything out down to the middle ear. A TECABO is EVERYTHING ear related is removed. Both are intricate surgeries that are pretty painful and have to have pain management taken pretty seriously. Right now, he FOR SURE needs one of those surgeries on his "bad" ear. He has about a 60-75% chance of needing one of these surgeries on his "good" ear. The specialists on his team think that removing the problem in his ears will likely help with the neurotic behaviors.

The problem is, we do NOT have the funds to make either of these surgeries happen right now. The discount given to rescue groups is usually around 10% so it does not bring down the totals enough to allow us to cover this. We are trying to do everything possible for Hoka to give him a chance at a long and happy life, but without donations to cover the costs of these surgeries we may have to make the decision to euthanize him to alleviate his pain. It is inhumane to allow him to suffer, but we are a small, grassroots, all-volunteer rescue group. We receive ZERO government funding and very little grant money. We rely on donations. We all have full-time, mostly unrelated jobs and do rescue as a hobby in our spare time for free (not a single person in our organization is paid -- ever). We do as many fundraisers as we possibly can but they have in no way come close to the bills that we have amassed on this dog. We need the help of the community who has grown to love him to make these happen for him and we are pleading for your help in doing so. Please donate, share and spread the word.

Please help us reach our goal to make these tests and surgery possible to be able to find some comfort for Hoka. He has suffered a lot but he shows a lot of fight in him and we want to provide the best care for him. Hoka is depending on his community to help him. Even $5 helps when multiple people give.

His adventures can be followed on Instagram @hokatheotterpup 

  • Connie O'Dwyer 
    • $10 
    • 55 mos
  • Shannon Suggett 
    • $5 
    • 55 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $5 
    • 56 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $5 
    • 56 mos
  • Terri Levels 
    • $100 
    • 57 mos
See all


Carla Vazquez 
Pittsburg, CA
Umbrella of Hope 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.