Tiny Pit Bull Born with Deformed Face, Cat Rescue Called to Help Save Her Life


If it weren’t for the support of caring animal rescuers diligently saving lives day in and day out, many abused pets and strays wouldn’t have had the happy ending they ended up with.

And thanks to Marie DeMarco — with a little help from New York’s SNARR Animal Rescue Northeast — a tiny pit bull puppy, Sasha, is making a swift recovery.

Born in early September, Sasha was only a day old when staff at the rescue noticed her predicament: the newborn pup was unable to nurse due to a cleft lip and palate.

“The owner recognized she had a cleft palate and lip and wanted to try and save her,” said rescue director Courtney Bellew. “He brought her to my house and she was so tiny and fragile.”

It was right then that Bellew knew Sasha would have to be tube-fed, and she quickly coordinated efforts with nurse practitioner DeMarco, who tended mainly to neonatal and critically ill kittens. However, with DeMarco’s skill at keeping vulnerable animals alive, it was Sasha’s only hope.

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Sasha weighed just 11 ounces her first day as Bellew drove her — in the warmth of a heating pad and blankets — to go meet the woman who would take her in. Little did either of the women know that Sasha had more health issues than what first appeared.

Upon seeing the pup, DeMarco noticed that Sasha’s head looked larger than should be compared to the rest of her body. It was only a matter of time that veterinarians confirmed the nurse’s suspicions, and diagnosed Sasha with hydrocephalus — a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain. It also meant her brain was only about a third as big as it should have been.

Even with the expert care she had received, Sasha developed an upper respiratory infection, with a urinary tract infection following closely on its heels. Soon, the growing pup was experiencing orthopedic troubles as well.

Through it all, however, she didn’t give up, amazing everyone who has watched her grow.

“She has an amazing will and determination,” DeMarco said. “Through all this, she really shouldn’t be here.”

Nearly 4 months old, Sasha still weighs just under two pounds, which leaves any major surgery such as relieving the fluid in her skull or operations that could help her eat, as too big a risk just yet.

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Even though DeMarco admits she’s a little slower and less “peppy” than her healthier counterparts, she is happy and extremely loved. In fact, she’s grown fond of DeMarco’s numerous foster kittens and cats, who she often follows and plays with.

Most of all, the small pup loves being near — and receiving affection from — her foster-mom, DeMarco.

“I scoop her up and hold her,” DeMarco said. “When I hold her and I’m kissing her, if I hold her near my face, she licks my nose.”

And though it is too soon to predict Sasha’s future, she is fiercely loved by people who are optimistic she’ll pull through and wouldn’t change the pup for the world.

“She was dealt some bad cards in life,” DeMarco admitted. “Boy, is she loved.”

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ASU grad who loves all things reading and writing.
Becky is an ASU grad who uses her spare time to read, write and play with her dog, Tasha. Her interests include politics, religion, and all things science. Her work has been published with ASU's Normal Noise, Phoenix Sister Cities, and "Dramatica," a university-run publication in Romania.
Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Science/Tech, Faith, History, Gender Equality