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Pacemaker, love cure a dog's heart

Abused dog gets love, a pacemaker

Thirteen-year-old chow-husky mix Sunny, who spent most of her life tied to a tree, was adopted by veterinarian Gregg Rapoport. Thirteen-year-old chow-husky mix Sunny, who spent most of her life tied to a tree, was adopted by veterinarian Gregg Rapoport.

By the time Gregg Rapoport met Sunny, a 13-year-old chow-husky mix who had been rescued by animal control officers in January, the pooch had spent most of her life tied to a tree near a vacant house in Connecticut.

Rapoport, 37, a cardiologist for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Jamaica Plain, said a pattern of neglect was apparent during the dog's initial examination, when staff trimmed 30 pounds of matted hair and feces from her fur.

As if that wasn't enough, Rapoport says, Sunny was almost completely deaf, severely underweight, and had a heart rate 50 percent of a normal dog's.

"Every case is a little bit different," he said in an interview last week. "But what I think stood out about her is that she really had the right spirit."

Meanwhile, a neighbor from Norwich, Conn., who knew Sunny, followed up with the MSPCA about the dog's condition and got to work raising almost $6,000 for her medical care, including a pacemaker to take some of the strain off her ailing heart.

Sunny, who underwent the treatment in March, is among the five to 10 canines that receive a pacemaker from MSPCA staff each year, Rapoport said.

"These are pacemakers that originally come from human hospitals, where they perhaps outlived their technical shelf life but still have plenty of battery life in them for our purposes," he said.

A month after the surgery, the dog that he helped heal had stolen his own heart, and Rapoport took Sunny home to live with him.

"Although she was tied to a tree for 13 years, she doesn't show any sign of looking back," he said.

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