Stray German Shepherd Puppy Has Life-Saving Surgery For Rare Birth Defect

“He couldn’t eat or drink and needed emergency surgery to save his life. The problem was it was so rare, they had to find a vet in another state who could do it.”

This stray little German shepherd pup had a birth defect that required surgery and fortunately, animal control went all out to help him get it.

When Harford County Animal Control officers picked up a German shepherd puppy of unknown age, they had no idea that the puppy needed specialized medical care. But it soon became obvious that the puppy couldn’t hold down any food and was arching his back in pain.

Humane Society of Harford County

Worried that the pup had a bowel obstruction, they took the puppy they named Rhett to Pleasantville Animal Hospital, where Dr. Michael Gounaris ordered a swallow study in the form of a barium test to get a good view of the puppy’s gastrointestinal tract.

When Rhett swallowed the barium, it didn’t travel down his throat to his stomach as it should. Rather, the barium collected in the esophagus, where it pooled into a balloon-like shape.

Humane Society of Harford County

Rhett was diagnosed with megaesophagus, but Rhett had a rare form of it due to a birth defect. In his case, a branch of his aorta that should have dissolved at birth was wrapped around his esophagus, causing him to slowly starve.

Rhett needed immediate surgery but finding a surgeon that had experience with his condition proved difficult. Most veterinarians in the Baltimore, Maryland area had never seen Rhett’s condition let alone performed the procedure to correct it.

Humane Society of Harford County

So, his medical team began to broaden their search for a specialist and found a doctor in Georgia who was willing to do it and reduce the $8000 fee for the surgery. This wasn’t the first time Dr. Stephen Arbitter helped a needy pet; he had kindly done it twice before.

The surgery took three hours, but Rhett made it through. Soon his esophagus was functioning normally, ensuring that he could get nourishment from his food and would soon be gaining weight and on the road to recovery.

Humane Society of Harford County

Thanks to Dr. Arbitter, Rhett could now lead a normal life. It would have been so easy for the humane society to just give up on Rhett, but they didn’t, and the cute pup is very grateful. After his surgery, he traveled back to Maryland where he will surely find a loving home.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Rhett’s surgical miracle. Thankfully, caring people had empathy for the pup and didn’t let him suffer any longer. Please feel free to share his story with your friends.

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