World's Largest NO-KILL
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Help These Puppy Mill Survivors Get A Second Chance at Life

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Each year, North Shore Animal League America rescues hundreds of puppies and dogs from the horrific conditions that exist inside commercial breeding facilities, more commonly known as Puppy Mills. When these rescued dogs are brought back to our Port Washington, N.Y. campus, all of them are examined by our veterinarians, groomed, and then most are placed up for adoption to find responsible, loving homes.

Unfortunately, there are instances when an animal is too sick or injured to be adopted, so they remain in the care of the top-notch veterinarians and medical staff at our Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center until they are happy, healthy and ready to take full advantage of their second chance. Recently we met two Puppy Mill rescue dogs, Larissa a 10-year-old Yorkie, and Piper, a 6-month-old Maltipoo, who faced similar setbacks after arriving at Animal League America. Although the two dogs have vastly different stories, both were in need of urgent medical attention, as well as long-term nurturing and treatment that only the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization could provide.


When Larissa arrived at our campus our veterinary staff immediately noticed her warm, gentle demeanor and eagerness to show appreciation for her newfound life. Something else they noticed was that she was having trouble standing on her own four legs without falling over, which of course sparked concern. Upon closer examination, our veterinarians also recognized the senior dog, who spent her entire life as a breeding machine, in cramped, unsanitary conditions, was having trouble breathing. She was placed in an oxygenated environment for almost three weeks until her breathing was regulated, but her lack of mobility and inability to find her center of gravity was still a major cause for concern, said Animal League America Veterinarian, Dr. Sylvia Nagy, who was first to examine Larissa when she arrived.

“When Larissa first arrived we saw that she was very reluctant to move or even stand, and we weren’t quite sure why this was the case. As her breathing started to improve after being in the oxygen cage we noticed she would try to get around but couldn’t support her weight,” she said. “It was apparent she’d need further tests at a specialist to get more answers.”

After undergoing several tests and examinations with a neurologist at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan it was discovered that this little lady has a multitude of serious medical issues, including a developmental disease called Caudal Occipital Malformation Syndrome, an abnormal formation of the back of the skull that causes crowding of the cerebellum and brainstem, which can potentially damage her spinal cord. It was also determined that she has Hydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid on her brain, a Grade II/VII heart murmur, an array of leg/joint issues, and chronic intervertebral disc disease, which effects the shock absorbing and stabilizing structure in the vertebrae.

To say that Larissa is in desperate need of individualized medical care would be a vast understatement, but so are many of the animals that Animal League America cares for each and every day.


Six-month-old Piper was born in a Puppy Mill. The adorable cream colored Maltipoo is visually the picture of perfection, with brown eyes that could melt your heart and the cutest button nose you’ll ever see. It wasn’t until Animal League America veterinarians examined Piper that an imperfection was discovered.

“Piper has a congenital heart condition called Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), which basically causes abnormal shunting from her heart to the rest of her body and lungs,” said Animal League America Veterinarian, Dr. Erin Carney. “We’ve taken her to see a specialist, who performed an echocardiogram on her, and that’s how the defect was discovered.  She does need corrective surgery to close the hole in the tubing, but because of her small size and young age they decided it would be best to give her some time to grow.”

PDA is a heart problem that occurs when abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart. Before birth, the two major arteries—the aorta and the pulmonary artery—are connected by a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This vessel is an essential part of fetal blood circulation. Within minutes or up to a few days after birth, the vessel is supposed to close as part of the normal changes occurring in the infant’s circulation, but in Piper’s case the vessel never closed.

The next step in Piper’s recovery will be an X-ray to get a look inside of her chest cavity and at her heart, as well as another echocardiogram to see if she’s a better candidate for the procedure. Once she does have the delicate procedure and has time to recover, this little Maltipoo will be ready to hit the adoption floor at Animal League America.

Both Larissa and Piper have had more than their share of adversity, but today you have an opportunity to be their hero. Your support of our Help Me Heal Program will make it possible for both of these beautiful dogs to get the urgent medical they desperately need to put their pasts behind them, and look forward to a second chance at a happy, healthy life in a loving home of their own.

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