By Mollie Mansfield
A pooch with ‘half a spine’ has been saved from being put down due to her bizarre condition, thanks to her doting owner.
Julie LeRoy, 51, fell in love with disabled short-spine pooch, Cuda the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the moment she first saw her.
Cuda was born with short-spine syndrome, a rare congenital condition that is caused by close inbreeding – which means her spine is noticeably shorter than other dogs.
However, her syndrome does not mean she is missing vertebrae, but it is instead compressed somewhere along her spine.
After her previous owners couldn’t look after her anymore, Julie decided to adopt Cuda as she couldn’t bare seeing her go to a dog shelter.
Despite her short spine, Cuda is not restricted – except the fact her legs can’t reach the back of her ears to scratch them – from living life like a normal dog.
Julie, from Tampa, Florida, said: “Despite Cuda’s condition, she behaves no differently. She runs like the wind, she plays, she’s a diva and people fall in love with her at first sight.
“She might look different, and others might look at her differently, but she’s perfect to me.
“Special needs animals are only different in appearance. They are brave, loving and thrive when treated with love and regular health care.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see that Cuda is inspiring, not only me, but others too.
“Prior to discovering Cuda, dogs with this syndrome would be immediately put to sleep – even the shelter veterinarian took one look at her and said she should be put to sleep.”
Julie met Cuda when she was just a puppy after her previous owners could not look after her anymore.
Julie added: “I was working as an animal control officer and responded to a complaint, but whilst on the call a couple asked if I wanted to see their puppy.
“They brought out this little deformed dog on a piece of twine and I couldn’t stop staring at her.
“They told me that they couldn’t keep her and I couldn’t bear to see her go to a shelter.
“So after arguing with my husband he let us have her – and when he saw her for the first time he was stunned. Now here we are, seven years later.”