Helping Hugo

December 12, 2012  

A shelter rallies around an abused dog and helps him to physically and mentally recover


By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb

Like so many before him, Hugo was surrendered to the Washington Humane Society because his family’s life was changing, and they felt that they no longer had time for him. Upon intake, it was noted that Hugo had something going on with his jaw, and he was awfully skinny. The family surrendering him had only had him for a little while and said that he had always been that way.

Hugo was taken to the vet because of his jaw, soon labeled “his crooked smile,” where he had X-rays. The veterinarian’s diagnosis: Hugo had suffered a fractured skull and a broken jaw, likely the result of injury from abuse. Because it was left untreated, the jaw fused together, and Hugo was left unable to eat.

The staff at the Washington Humane Society felt for Hugo. This poor boy had been through so much. They quickly took it upon themselves to hand feed him. They fundraised and took Hugo for surgery. That in itself was a complication. The surgeons were sure that they would be able to help Hugo, but because his jaw was fused, how would they even insert an endotracheal tube to administer the necessary anesthetic? But they figured it out, performed the surgery, and it was a success! Finally Hugo could eat on his own again!

For his recovery, Hugo was sent to a foster home, but there, they ran into another problem. Hugo suffered from separation anxiety. But once again, people rallied around Hugo. While his foster mom was at work, Hugo would hang out at the shelter and was then picked up and taken home with her in the evening. Slowly, Hugo began to feel more and more secure when left alone. He also had the company of the other two dogs in the foster home.

What was it about Hugo, we asked Stephanie Shain of the Washington Humane Society? She replied “Why did we do so much for Hugo? It’s a hard question to answer. We see animals every day who need various kinds of intervention – medical and behavioral – and the decisions for who can be treated and who can’t are never easy. As a pit bull type dog, Hugo faced challenges to finding a new home just because of what he looks like. As the only shelter in Washington, D.C. that openly accepts animals into its care regardless of breed, we knew that WHS was the only chance Hugo had. As an organization, we are committed to helping as many animals as we can, and we don’t let what a dog looks like work against a dog who needs help. We loved Hugo, like we love all animals who come to us, and sometimes it just feels right to go above and beyond.”

And then it happened! After three long months, Hugo found his forever home! Hugo has his happy ending!

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