By John Balson @JJBalson
Scroll down for the full story
Videographer / director: Jeffrey Fuchs
Producer: John Balson, Nick Johnson
Editor: Joshua Douglas, Ian Phillips
Four-year-old Quasimodo is believed to be one of just 15 dogs worldwide living with short-spine syndrome.
The rare condition has left him with virtually no neck but his new family say he is enjoying a new lease of life - and even earned nearly 100,000 likes on his Facebook page.
“I think that anyone who sees him falls in love with him,” said Rachel Mairose, of Secondhand Hounds, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA.
“The first day I met him he was so scared and shy and I wondered if he was really enjoying life.
“I soon realised that he was. He is playful, he is goofy and he loves girl dogs. He thinks he is Casanova not Quasimodo.”
Quasimodo was discovered as a stray in Kentucky and it took authorities five days to catch him in December.
They used a food trap to lure in the elusive German shepherd and found he had an embedded collar, which is where a collar is too tight and skin begins to grow around it, but they were able to remove it.
On arrival at Secondhand Hounds, the most obvious cause for concern was his shortened body, which had left his head with virtually no support.
Scans revealed his vertebrae were pushed together and he was also missing a few. The resulting pressure meant he could only eat meals in small amounts otherwise there was too much pressure on his lungs and organs.
The condition, short-spine syndrome, is known in just 15 dogs worldwide, according to Secondhand Hounds.
In order to further research the condition, vials of Quasimodo’s blood will be sent to geneticists at University of California, Davis, who want to study the causes and whether it is due to inbreeding.
But the main concern was to make sure Quasimodo was comfortable and not suffering.
Rachel, a mother-of-two, is confident he is not in pain and does not need to be euthanised.
She said: “Quasimodo can do most things that a normal dog can do, with just a few limitations.
“He really likes jumping onto the sofa and the chairs, which I didn’t expect. He loves to nibble, he is very mouthy and he loves running and chasing after things.
“He is definitely not in pain. He is a true German Shepherd - just shortened.
“He does have some problems going down stairs - he backs down them instead, and it’s quite cute to watch as I’ve never seen a dog do that, in general.”
And thanks to his Facebook page Quasimodo has become something of a global celebrity - receiving nearly 100,000 likes to date.
Secondhand Hounds, which has rescued almost 10,000 dogs since opening in 2009, has also received more than
1,200 offers to adopt Quasimodo full-time.
However, Rachel and her family are in no rush to move him on just yet.
She said: “He is a sweet boy. It is going to be hard to let him go.
“We are just trying to find out about his personality so that we can make a perfect match for him.
“I urge everybody that hasn’t inquired about him to go to their local shelter and find a dog that’s a great match for them because Quasimodo is one of millions in shelters in the US and worldwide who need a home.”