Victory, Courtesy: Detroit Free Press
Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press
Earlier this month, a caramel-colored pup with big ears was brought into the Dearborn Animal Shelter after she was found running or trying her best to run with little more than stubs for front legs down a street in the city.
Soon, she'll get her own set of wheels to better get around.
The Chihuahua mix named Victory by staff at the shelter has deformed front legs that give her the appearance of a kangaroo. A fund-raising campaign to buy devices to help her mobility exceeded its goal by more than threefold and drew international attention.
"The fact that she has this disability and she pushes right through it I think is a victory," said Elaine Greene, executive director of Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter, the nonprofit group that operates the shelter.
Dearborn veterinarian Linda Schrier said Victory has a congenital defect called radial hemimelia, and parts of the bones in her front legs are missing. Greene said the dog's elbows appear to be fused, so she can't fully straighten her front legs. On the end of each leg is a tiny bit of a toe pad and a single toenail.
"She can scoot pretty quickly. She basically uses the elbows on her front legs, and the back legs are well-muscled, so she basically pushes herself," Greene said. "The problem is that elbows are not made for walking on."
About a week ago, the shelter e-mailed a newsletter with information about Victory to people on its mailing list.
Greene was hoping to raise $2,000, enough to buy three different orthopedic appliances Victory can wear strapped on the front of her body. The first has smooth, sled-like runners on the bottom to help her get around indoors, and another has wheels on front for when she goes outside. The third is a vest to protect her elbows from friction.
Victory's story made local TV news. The $2,000 goal was met within a few days. By Friday, more than $7,000 had been donated.
"We've gotten them from California, Canada. We got a donation today from the Philippines," Greene said Friday.
Greene expects the devices to arrive within a few weeks. All the extra money raised will go into Hope's Heros, a fund that helps with the cost of caring for animals who come to the shelter with special medical needs.
Victory is about 1 year old. Greene said she had no wounds or calluses on her elbows when a man, whose daughter saw her in the street, brought her to the shelter Feb. 2, indicating that whoever owned her last took good care of her.
Other than her shortened front legs, she is in good health. She has a sweet demeanor and prefers feline companions.
"She's a little fearful of dogs," Greene said. "That tells us that she's either been picked on by other dogs or she hasn't had much experience with them. She does really like cats. The cats, she will play with them and run up to them."
For now, Greene is fostering Victory at her home. She brings her with her to work at the shelter.
"There's a lot of people who have expressed interest in her," Greene said. "Finding her a home is not going to be difficult at all. We just want to make sure it's the right home for her."
Schrier said Victory might one day make a terrific therapy dog for children with physical disabilities.
"I think she'd bring a lot of people a lot of hope," she said.