Severely Neglected Dog Recovers from Life-Saving Surgery

November 5, 2013

BOSTON, Nov. 5, 2013 – Staff members at the MSPCA-Angell in Jamaica Plain, Mass. expressed relief today upon learning that a severely neglected elderly dog—who arrived at the adoption center on Oct. 2 so heavily matted that she could not walk—survived a delicate surgery to remove her blind and diseased eyes as well as several tumors from her chest.  Now “Petunia,” whose ordeal began when she was found abandoned in a Dorchester yard, has been adopted by an MSPCA employee.

Matted, Emaciated and Blind

Petunia was brought to the MSPCA by a good Samaritan who found the emaciated dog cowering in her yard.  The MSPCA believes she was dumped there by her previous owner, though no owner could be found as Petunia had no identification tags nor was she microchipped.  Petunia was so heavily matted, with nails so grotesquely overgrown, that at first it was hard to know if she was even a dog.  Unable to walk, and with eyes so infected she could not see, Petunia was completely helpless.

Once at the adoption center veterinarian Dr. Cindi Cox and her team set to work, determined to give Petunia a chance at a new life.  The team shaved the emaciated dog’s urine-stained fur and trimmed her twisted, ingrown nails.  An evaluation of her eyes revealed she had once suffered from either Glaucoma or an infection—but because she was never treated her eyes deteriorated so badly that she could no longer see. 

 A picture worth a 1,000 words: MSPCA-Angell staffers shave the crippling matted fur off Petunia, enabling her to stand and walk freely for the first time in a very, very long time (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

Life-Saving Surgery

Dr. Cox expressed shock at Petunia’s condition.  “This is one of the most severe cases of neglect I’ve seen,” she said of the dog, who is believed to be about nine years old.  “The condition of Petunia’s fur, nails and overall health tells me she was likely confined to a small crate for years, unable to move freely and covered in her own feces and urine.” 

Despite her wretched condition Petunia was friendly to the veterinary team caring for her and, after just a few days in the adoption center, gained enough weight to undergo surgery. 

On Thursday, Oct. 24 Dr. Martin Coster of the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center Ophthalmology team, performed the operation to remove both of Petunia’s eyes. 

Katie Armour, an adoption center staffer who assisted in removing Petunia’s matted fur upon her intake, was so moved by her plight she decided to take Petunia home.  “I was struck by Petunia’s incredible will to live and, having played a role in getting her past the worst of her health issues, I knew I had to take her home.

Armour issued a plea for pet owners who are considering dumping their animals.  “There are options.  No pet should be abandoned outside to fend for itself.  Pet owners should call their local shelters and rescue groups if they can no longer care for their pet.  Surrendering an animal to a shelter gives it a fighting chance of finding a loving and permanent home.”

The MSPCA-Angell’s three state-wide animal care and adoption centers take in, and place into new homes, thousands of homeless dogs, cats and other animals every year.  Petunia represents just one of the many animals who arrive every day—and whose futures are brighter as a result of the care they receive.  Readers can contribute directly toward the care of these animals by clicking here.


The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit and like us on Facebook at