No One Thought Pit Bull With Dwarfism Would Survive. 4 Years Later, She’s Proving Them All Wrong

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Normally when someone adopts a dog, everyone celebrates a new friendship that will last for years and have a lasting impact on human and dog alike.

Unfortunately, when Ernie Altamirano adopted Sassy, the rescue organization, veterinarians, and even others warned him not to get too attached to this dog. In all likelihood, they said, his little pit bull puppy wouldn’t live past three years.

That was because the pit bull puppy, who Altamirano named Sassy, was born with dwarfism as well as serious congenital deformities, likely due to inbreeding.

As a result of this bad breeding, Sassy is only about a quarter of the size of a normal pit bull. She also has curved, twisted forelegs; malformed, flat feet; and a tongue that doesn’t entirely fit inside her mouth. She has difficulty moving and breathing.

Despite all that, Sassy just turned four.

Inbreeding is an awful practice that results in congenital deformities and disabilities in dogs, all in the name of creating “pure” breeds.

More often, dogs like Sassy end up with conditions that make their lives tougher than they have to be and diminish their chances of finding a loving home. At worst, dogs like Sassy end up getting euthanized because of their “undesirable” status.

Sassy was lucky to be adopted by Altamirano, who loves her no matter what she looks like. She lives with him in Long Island, NY, with two other disabled pooches named Chiqui Gonzalez and Dolly Parton.

Although Sassy might have her share of issues, she’s not letting them get her down. Her personality inspires everyone she meets!

[H/T: The Dodo]

Sassy was born to a backyard breeder and was likely the product of inbreeding.

She was taken to a local shelter due to her multiple birth deformities, and then she was taken in by Forgotten Friends of Long Island, a New York-based rescue organization that cares specifically for animals who would be euthanized due to age, illness, or birth defects like Sassy’s.

No one thought Sassy would make it very long. Her twisted legs, underdeveloped flipper feet, hip dysplasia, and dwarfism made people think she would barely make it to her third birthday.

Still, they started a campaign and a fundraiser to find her a home, and she ended up with Long Island resident Ernie Altamirano, who just loves everything about her.

Since walking is difficult for her, Altamirano usually pushes her around in a stroller and has to carry her up the stairs. She can walk, but gets tired easily.

Her hip dysplasia also causes her to “twerk” when she walks, and her curved front legs mean that she balances on her forearms, instead of her front feet, to walk. Her feet are flat, flipper-like, and underdeveloped.

Sassy also can’t really bark, but Altamirano thinks this quirk is the cutest.

“She just claps her jaw,” he says. “You know she’s trying to bark because she’s just doing this jaw clap. I think it’s hysterical.”

But what really gets Altamirano is her spirit. Despite her challenges, Sassy is a happy and active dog.

“She’s got a lot of problems,” Altamirano says, “but she’s totally smart, and she has no idea any of these things are going on.”

Amazingly, when she wants to, she can even run pretty fast! She doesn’t run for very long, but when she does, Altamirano says, “She’s pretty impressive with the speed.”

Socializing also comes naturally to her, and despite her small size, she’s not intimidated by big dogs. “She definitely doesn’t know what size she is.”

Despite all the warnings about her life not being long, Sassy recently turned four, surpassing her life expectancy. What’s more, she’s also in good health.

Today, she’s happily spending time at home with Altamirano and his two other disabled dogs, Dolly Parton and Chiqui Gonzales.

Altamirano is nothing but glad he took in this tiny pit bull. “She’s so sweet,” he says. “You can’t not love this dog. She’s just the happiest little girl.”

You can follow along on Sassy’s adventures on Facebook, and if you’d like to see dogs with disabilities like Sassy get a better shot at life, consider donating to Forgotten Friends of Long Island.

And SHARE this hugely inspiring little dog with everyone you know!