Eleventh Save of Christmas: Birdie

During the month of December, we’re sharing 12 stories about animals saved by the CASPCA this year. These stories exemplify our commitment to maintaining the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA as a No Kill community, and they have a happy ending because of the tireless efforts of our staff and the generosity of supporters like you. 


11. Birdie

At only a little over six weeks old, Birdie was transferred from a neighboring shelter because she has Swimmer’s Syndrome. Swimmer’s Syndrome is a developmental deformity that causes a puppy’s limbs to splay out, making it impossible to stand up. All four of Birdie’s itty-bitty legs stayed extended out, so she was more like a starfish than a puppy. It’s believed that Birdie’s littermates were stepping on her, making it difficult for her to move around and develop normally.

Physical therapy was immediately started in the hopes the Birdie would someday be able to walk. Hobbles were placed to keep her limbs in the correct position and a tunnel was built by a volunteer to allow her to walk with support. She was always provided flooring that enabled her to have traction to encourage her to stand. She was also given time in a small pool to encourage muscle development in all of her limbs. Physical therapy was provided a volunteer; Birdie’s limbs were gently put through a normal range of motion and held in the correct position several times daily. Within a week, Birdie had responded quickly to the therapy and made significant progress.

For Birdie to keep improving, she needed to have someone with her almost all of the time. Left alone in a cage, she would be spending too much time laying down. It was critical that Birdie find a foster home.

And Birdie found the perfect foster. Angie Gunter, the CASPCA’s Executive Director, wanted to foster her! Angie said, “I was determined to save her life. I knew that she needed me, our staff and our volunteers to live.” Birdie was able to come to the shelter almost every day for her physical therapy. When she wasn’t at the shelter, she was able to enjoy lots of love and the company of other animals in her foster home. The CASPCA’s veterinarians monitored Birdie closely, and with the support of staff, volunteers and her foster, Birdie kept improving.

 Soon she was crawling through her tunnel to get treats, paddling in her pool and even walking! Then she was able to play while standing. Before long, Birdie was running. Time flew by and Birdie was one year old. While she has never looked like typical puppy, she is the cutest! Birdie has become a staff and volunteer favorite, and has even become a helper for dogs that need to be socialized. In October, Angie officially adopted Birdie, and we threw Birdie a “Gotcha Day” party!

Angie has no regrets about adopting a special needs puppy. She says it’s been the most rewarding experience “because you’re saving a life by adopting an animal that’s different. In the majority of shelters, Birdie would have been euthanized. I just can’t imagine a world without her in it. She brings so much joy to everyone she meets.”

Birdie is always happy and loves meeting new people and animals. No matter how painful her limbs have been, she always greets you with a smile and tail wag. Every day that Birdie comes to shelter, she teaches us all something. When playtime with her best bud Bentley gets a little rough, Birdie has no problems standing up for herself. But with two frightened beagles named Midge and Mallard, Birdie is very gentle and likes to give them kisses. She knows exactly what everyone around her needs.

Angie feels like she has gotten so much more from fostering and adopting Birdie than she ever could have imagined. She shared, “Birdie loves everyone. She loves every animal she interacts with. She’s such an inspiration to me. With everything that she’s been through, she has never let it bring her down. Birdie is a fighter, but she fights with love and positivity! I love how much she loves life. She is a reminder of how fortunate I am and how important it is to be grateful for what we have.”

This holiday season, please think of the thousands of animals we have saved

and the thousands more we have yet to save.