Local lab puppy needs surgery to fix his broken heart

BOSTON (WHDH) - The MSPCA is raising money for a three-month-old Labrador puppy who was born with a congenital heart condition.

The purebred Labrador puppy named “Hugo” was less than 2 months old when he was diagnosed with a condition called Persistent Right Aortic Arch, or PRAA, which means part of his heart was wrapped around his esophagus and is effectively squeezing his throat. The condition makes it nearly impossible for Hugo to drink and eat like a regular puppy.

Hugo was surrendered last month to the MSPCA-Angell’s Boston adoption center by a local breeder because he could not eat without regurgitating his food. Because of his condition, Hugo could not be sold.

“We basically can only feed him when he’s sitting upright like a child because, without the gravity, he can’t keep food and water down,” said Anna Rafferty, the associate director of the MSPCA-Angell animal resource and adoption center.

If left untreated, Hugo’s condition could become fatal. Now, the MSPCA is raising funds for Hugo’s heart surgery, which will cost upwards of $6,000.

After a consultation with the MSPCA’s Angell animal medical center surgery team, Hugo is set to undergo a surgery next week that will untangle the embryonic branch of his aorta from his esophagus and place it back where it belongs.

Dr. Sue Casale, who specializes in both orthopedic and soft tissue surgery at Angell, is optimistic that this surgery will resolve Hugo’s condition entirely. Dr. Casale believes Hugo’s future will be much brighter than his past.

“The truth is he may always need to be somewhat upright when he eats, though the surgery should open up his esophagus to a degree that eating and drinking a wider variety of foods will be much easier for him,” she said.

Hugo will recover at the home of Andrea Bessler, a veterinary technician in the MSPCA-Angell’s adoption center clinic.

“I’m continuously amazed by his energy,” Bessler said. “In every other way he is a typical puppy: playful, so loving and great with other animals. I can’t wait to follow his adventure once he leaves our care.”

Readers who wish to donate to Hugo’s care, and animals like him, can do so by visiting  www.mspca.org/helphugo.

Anyone interested in adopting Hugo can email  adoption@mspca.org to learn more about Hugo and the adoption process.

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