In April, a gray pit bull was roaming the streets of Philadelphia when someone noticed he seemed to be in distress. He was in pain, bleeding and wounded, and the good Samaritan took him to ACCT Philly, the local shelter.
It didn’t take long for the vet to discover that the poor young pup was missing his tongue — and it didn’t look like an accident, either, according to the shelter’s director of development and communications, Sarah Barnett.
“Sometimes you might have a dog who ate an electrical cord or something like that, but our vets ruled it out,” Barnett told People’s “Today.” “And it was very, very recent. It was still raw.”
“We got a second opinion to make sure Heart’s missing tongue wasn’t connected to cancer or an accident,” she said, adding that the vet said the pup’s tongue had been “traumatically” removed, according to People.
Once his immediate medical needs were addressed, he needed a foster. While there was definitely a trend of lots of foster homes opening up during the pandemic as more people were home and seeking companionship, now it’s a struggle to find any.
When no one stepped up to foster Heart, as the dog came to be known, Barnett took him home herself, receiving support from the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society and others, and began the task of teaching him how to eat.
Because he had no tongue, the dog had a rough go of eating. Lots of kinds of food would simply fall out of his mouth and he struggled to get things down.
Eventually, Heart was able to eat kibble out of an elevated feeder, though he makes a bit of a mess and his mouth tends to hide stray kibble bits — all part of the charm of the sweet dog.
“Heart is incredibly resilient and had bounced back in many ways,” Barnett said. “He’s a really good-natured dog. He loves people. He’s super trusting.”
In the process of fostering him, Barnett also discovered the hard way that the dog she affectionately refers to as the “tongueless wonder dog” is allergic to bees — something for his new owner to be aware of.
Heart’s wounds healed. He mastered eating. He was sweet with people and getting training to become a stellar pet. On June 5, Barnett posted about Heart on Facebook, introducing him to the world and hoping to find him a forever home.
“Heart is officially up for adoption and looking for that loving home he so deserves,” the post read. “Heart was found in April as a stray. He was disoriented, stumbling on the sidewalk, with puncture wounds on his neck and bleeding from his mouth.
“Rightfully concerned, good samaritans brought him to ACCT Philly, where our vets discovered his tongue had been removed, and it was not by accident. It was heartbreaking. Unfortunately no treatment exists — it’s simply that he had to heal and adjust to eating very differently.”
“Heart also shows not just resilience but how great it is when the animal community comes together,” the post continued.
“Huge thanks to Jess Mellen-Graaf and Philly Bully Team who tried to find a foster so they could take him, to Melissa Levy and PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) for doing the same and then when that didn’t work, Melissa agreeing to co-foster so that I could foster him, and to Howard Nelson for spreading the word about him and generously donating a great adoption care package for whoever adopts Heart!”
The word went out, and applications poured in.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the interest in Heart, and after going through applications and reaching out to the best matches in the order they applied, Heart found his forever home,” a form on the shelter’s website reads.
Hopefully, Heart will be able to enjoy many long years with his new family, thanks to the rescue community coming together and rooting for the tongueless wonder dog with a big heart.
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