BEDFORD — In pain and unable to walk normally, seven German shepherd puppies recently surrendered by their breeder are in desperate need of surgery and extensive physical therapy.
The dogs’ owner made a frantic call in September to the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire after her health prevented her from taking care of the animals.
“All seven of the puppies have a severe cases of hip dysplasia,” said Naomi Stevens of the shelter, adding they have all been diagnosed with life-altering orthopedic disease.
The shelter was familiar with the breeder, as they took in a different litter of puppies in July. Although all of those puppies have since found homes, the new litter of 8-month-old German shepherds will need significant medical assistance while their adoption plans are finalized.
“They all have some level of pain,” said Stevens, explaining it is very rare for an entire litter of young puppies to already have such bad cases of hip dysplasia.
Although the pups are able to walk, they make adjustments to their gait in order to alleviate some of the pain, said Stevens, explaining the bunny-hop maneuver they use with their hind legs.
“If left untreated, they will become so arthritic so quickly that they will be unable to walk,” she said. “They would also be in so much pain that it would be inhumane.”
While there are different surgeries and physical therapy to correct the hip dysplasia, the medical needs are costly, according to Stevens.
Four of the seven puppies are definitely in need of full hip replacements, she said. The other three may be able to improve with physical therapy or other procedures such as a femoral head osteotomy.
While FHO procedures cost nearly $1,000 each, a hip replacement costs up to $8,000 — and at least four of the dogs will likely need two hip replacement surgeries.
“We need to help these dogs. We want them to have the highest quality of life ahead of them,” said Stevens.
The goal, she said, is to raise at least $50,000, which would provide enough funds to prioritize some of the medical needs.
The dogs are old enough to undergo the surgeries now, if the money is available.
Stevens said that despite their walking issues, the dogs are all in good spirits, and have adapted to their medical conditions.
The litter includes five males and two females.
“Right now there is a team of us here that are getting the puppies out to walk and run and play. We are encouraging their muscles to be strong,” said Stevens. “Each one of them will have a different adoption plan. Obviously, it is better for them to recover in a home.”
It is possible that some of the German shepherds will be adopted before their surgeries, but that will be dependent upon their official adoption plans, which are still in the works.
For now, the main goal is to seek donations and raise funds to pay for their medical costs — a feat that could be challenging this time of year, admit shelter workers who are optimistic that the seven pups will get healthy and find their forever homes quickly.
Anyone interested in donating may visit rescueleague.org, click on the donate button and specify that the money is for the German shepherds’ medical needs. Donations may also be mailed to Animal Rescue League of NH, 545 Route 101, Bedford, N.H. 03110.