A beagle in Pittsburgh was given a second life after being adopted just weeks after having both eyes removed.
Rusty the beagle suffered from posterior lens dislocation, a condition in which the ligaments that support the lens weaken or break, causing the lens to dislocate and fall backward into the eye.
As his eyes began to swell painfully, Rusty underwent a double enucleation surgery on Oct. 4 at Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh (HARP), leaving him without eyeballs and with his eyelids stitched shut.
“Our veterinarians are very experienced in this procedure. We also felt it was best to perform this surgery before offering Rusty for adoption so that potential adopters would not be concerned about having to undergo this surgery in the future,” said Michele Frennier, HARP’s director of marketing.
With Rusty being both blind and 9 years old, there was concern about his future and whether he would find a forever home.
That is until Darrell Chulack and his family arrived. “My daughter Kristen had seen Rusty on Facebook and kept telling me to adopt him. After two weeks of harassment, I went to the Humane Society and visited Rusty. He came over, started licking my fingers and his tail was wagging. He made me melt,” Chulack told Newsweek.
“I had tears in my eyes when I saw him in his kennel. He was getting ready for his evening walk,” he added. “When Rusty walked into the room with my daughter and me, I laid down on the floor and lay with him for 15 minutes and he never left my side.”
“The reason I adopted Rusty was that already had enough pain and sorrow in his life. Rusty was a disabled senior dog and my heart wouldn’t let me leave him there, so I adopted him on the spot. My family and I gave Rusty a new lease on life.
Rusty had previously failed to be adopted and came to HARP through the Operation Pittsburghurghogram, which transports at-risk animals from “areas with limited resources and medical care to our shelters, giving them a second chance at life,” the shelter confirmed to Newsweek.
“Rusty came from one of our biggest partners, the Humane Society of Parkersburg. Rusty had come to them as a stray. The staff loved him, but after about a month at HSP, the public was not interested in adopting him. The staff felt that Rusty would have a better chance of finding a new family through HARP,” Frennier said.
“There were some concerns about how he would tolerate the travel, being in an unfamiliar environment with other barking dogs, etc. Rusty did very well. Rusty did very well. He was the last dog to leave the transport and was transported to our shelter by Carla Prince, our relocation manager.”
Because of the way Rusty behaved, the Humane Society is convinced he has been blind for most of his life. “Staff and volunteers were instructed to approach Rusty gently so as not to startle him, but Rusty was very comfortable with everyone he interacted with. Gradually, we broadened his horizons by taking him on long walks around the shelter, and then one of our volunteers began taking Rusty to a nearby park,” Frennier said.
“After several visits to the park, the volunteer noticed an exchange Rusty had with another small dog in the park. The dog’s owner related that his dog had always been eager to meet other dogs, but would become fearful and run away. His interaction with Rusty was the opposite. They sniffed each other and Rusty’s calm and gentle manner put the other dog at ease. After this interaction, the volunteer noticed that a home with another dog might be a good adoption for Rusty.”
Although he is very friendly and comfortable, Rusty was not available for adoption due to his medical needs until October 7, three days after his surgery. The shelter expected a long wait for Rusty, but it only took the Chulack family three weeks to find him and officially adopt him.
Today, Rusty has settled into his new home perfectly and has even gained two canine siblings, Chihuahuas Bella and Chalupa, as well as cat Tarzan.
“At first, Chalupa didn’t want anything to do with Rusty, but after a few weeks, she grew to love him. He goes to the bathroom seven times a day with his sisters,” Chulack said.
“He has his bed that he sleeps in most nights and much of the day, he loves his bed. He looks forward to the treats he gets during the day. We have four grandchildren and he gets excited when he hears them coming into the house.”
According to HARP, Rusty’s new family has vowed that “even though he’s only a year old, we’ll make it a big one.”