A Pit Bull puppy born with birth deformities escaped death at a kill shelter in Manhattan, New York, and instead will live a life filled with love and care. When her rescuers at Forgotten Friends of Long Island saw her intake photo, they knew they had to give the 5-month-old puppy at a Manhattan animal shelter a second chance.
The puppy is named Sassy and was born with serious medical issues, likely caused by backyard breeding. She has obvious leg deformities, and as her rescuers would later learn, other more complicated internal deformities as well. However, as imperfect as Sassy may appear on the outside, her caregivers say she’s perfect in every way.
Here’s Sassy’s story as shared by her rescuer on Sassy The Small Wonder Facebook page:
“More than likely a product of basement breeding, Sassy has a number of deformities – this was obvious when we saw her intake picture. What would be the odds of her really having a chance? When I saw her picture, among the many I receive on a daily basis, I knew we had to step up. We pulled Sassy and took her into our program based on the information the medical staff at the shelter was able to provide. She had leg deformities, grade 2 heart murmur, fever and some wheezing – not to mention an enlarged cranium and under bite that just gave her that added character. Sassy is a rambunctious 5 month old pittie pup who was turned into the Manhattan kill shelter because her owners couldn’t (or wouldn’t) deal with her ‘health issues’. She is active, loving, affectionate, and spunky- just to name a few. Sassy is a lot of things, but one thing she isn’t – a typical dog.
“I headed to pick her up from the shelter right after work on a Friday night. It was pouring! Within 15 minutes, one of the shelter workers came out with this little butterball of a pup – I looked down at my big tote bag I had emptied before I left the office and instantly knew my plan of carrying her in there had just been squashed.
“She was wrapped in a blanket and a jacket, and the only way to hold her so she was comfortable, was as if she was a football and I had just intercepted a throw from the opposing team. The rain was not letting up, the public transportation system does not allow animals aboard and the friends who I had arranged a ride with were at least an hour away on foot. What the heck was I going to do? How was I going to get her where we needed to meet up?
“I squatted under the awning of the shelter to regroup and to bond with her for a few minutes and to have a little chat with our girl. After about 15 minutes, and basically coming to terms with the fact I was going to have to walk the whole way carrying the heaviest 18.5 lbs of my life, I look up and – was I really seeing an available cab, in NYC, in the pouring rain?! The cabbie allowed us in and we were on our way. The traffic was atrocious and it took us over an hour to get to the meeting point – but we made it, $45 later!
“The fever and wheezing were a bit of a concern – had Sassy caught the shelter bug? Was it something she was surrendered with? Without hesitation she was brought to the emergency hospital where she underwent a number of preliminary testing. Blood work and X-rays were the first to come back. Blood was ok, but the xray showed her trachea not sitting where it’s supposed to. This also now explained the wheezing – when Sassy gets excited it’s almost like she’s hyperventilating. She needs to be in a calm state all the time (or try to anyway).
“We admitted her to the hospital where she could be treated symptomatically and given oxygen to keep her comfy. That coming week, the specialists and surgeons would also be able to see her and assess her leg deformities and run various tests to see what was going on inside. After a couple days we received news we were not expecting – Sassy is riddled with congenital deformities on the inside, her legs are the least of her problems! Her trachea never developed properly, her sternum doesn’t lie where it’s supposed to, heart valve problem – I literally got dizzy from the list of what was wrong with her. We hoped for, and gladly would have opted for, any surgery that would help her, to make her “normal”. But there was no viable option; any procedure risked her being worse off or losing her life. Then came the words that almost knocked me off my chair, “you have a difficult decision to make”. And then the tears, ohhh the tears!”
“How does one consider putting this firecracker down when she’s so full of life and has such a will to live? When all she wants to do is be close to you and feel the security of your presence? When at the very moment you both lock eyes, she’s giving you soft licks on your nose and cheeks? How does one not give her the chance that is rightfully hers – the chance to live in a home, to be loved, to have a warm bed and NOT be seen as an inconvenience or unwanted? We couldn’t bear the thought of it. So like our dear girl Love, we allow her to live on her own terms. We take ever step necessary to keep her comfortable and provide what she may need. She runs, she jumps, she plays, has quite the attitude and has not a care in the world.”
“We can only hope Sassy’s life and experience, and those like her, will serve as a reminder that these are precious, innocent lives that are being brought into this world. It is up to us to take care of them and fulfill the commitment due to them. It’s not ok to breed them for greed and to pad pockets, it’s not ok to over breed these poor mothers who don’t get a chance to experience comfort or love when they constantly have to bear babies. It’s not ok to add to the overpopulation of these animals when there are perfect ones waiting (and dying) in the shelters! And it’s certainly not ok to discard them when they become a nuisance or inconvenience.”
“Sassy is many things, but in a word, Sassy IS perfect! She possesses traits that many humans don’t have, she does not judge, does not hold grudges – Sassy lives and breathes unconditional love. Her physical ailments and limitations do not take away from what she’s able to feel and show. Sassy will live out her days, however many they may be, being taught the value of friendship, the feeling of unconditional love, what it feels like to be wanted (and accepted) and that her imperfections just make her that much more special. While Sassy’s short life is just getting started, her even shorter past is now a distant memory.”
“If being in animal rescue has taught me one thing, it’s that to get through each day you need a load of love, a heap of hope and a sprinkle of Sass-y!”
Sassy is now with a wonderful foster family where she will be loved and kept comfortable. She will be loved and “know the meaning of a warm bed, gentle hand and unconditional love and friendship.” Her caregivers write, “She will let us know when it’s time for her to earn her wings…”
Well, flash-forward 7 years (Sassy was rescued back in 2013) and Sassy is still going strong! It’s great to see Sassy being her wonderful self and thriving with her family!