LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio -- A pint-sized puppy underwent an incredibly rare and lifesaving open heart surgery after being rescued by the group S&C Rescued Me.
Crystal Mills and Sara Huntsman started the nonprofit rescue group in Lorain County and focus mainly on animals with special needs from injuries to amputees and birth defects.
“Because they don’t have anyone else to do it,” Huntsman told KMGH.
Both women work in veterinary medicine and were heartbroken seeing animals with serious conditions just discarded.
“We became friends and decided after just rescuing things that came in that we were just going to do it and go all out,” Mills said.
They women not only get the animals much-needed operations, like recently repairing several puppies born with cleft palates, but then provide the dogs with around-the-clock care.
“It’s just like taking care of a baby,” Mills said. “So we had to tube feed them and bottle feed them because they needed special care and couldn’t latch onto mom properly.”
But one of the most incredibly and cutest cases is a Pudelpointer puppy named Albert that was born weighting little more than 1.5 pounds when he should’ve weighed well over 8 pounds.
The puppy was diagnosed with PRAA, or Persistent Right Aortic Arch, and most certainly would’ve died.
Mills said it’s a condition where a band formed around the esophagus in-utero, continually constricts the esophagus, and prevents the animal from eating and therefore growing or gaining weight.
Albert was so emaciated, the women had to tube feed him around the clock for a couple of weeks before he was even strong enough to consider surgery.
“There’s always that whisper, 'What are you doing? You’re biting off more than you can chew,' but then that’s why we do this,” Huntsman said.
They also got extremely lucky.
The women are close to Animal Clinic Northview in North Ridgeville, where Dr. Randy Hutchison works and is one of only a few doctors locally able to do the operation, which lasted well over an hour.
The surgery left a large scar that raps around Albert's body, but was successful, and almost immediately the pup could eat and gain weight.
“It’s so exciting every time you put him on the scale and see the number go up was like a little party, we were so pumped,” Huntsman said.
Now 12 weeks old, Albert's growth is back on track and very soon the women say they will begin looking to match him with a forever home.
They say it will be hard to say goodbye, but giving him and all of the rescues a happy life is what it’s all about.
“That’s what makes it awesome,” Huntsman said. “To have these animals and watch them thrive it’s just the best.”