Dog at Long Island animal shelter gets new home after life-changing surgery

WEST ISLIP, Long Island (WABC) -- A dog at a Long Island animal shelter that couldn't be adopted due to a heart defect has found his forever home after receiving life-changing surgery.

After finally having surgery last week, Kobe was adopted by Derek Bullock, a former Nassau correction officer. He came to visit and drop off gifts for Kobe over the last few months.

Last November, someone brought Kobe, a 3-year-old English bulldog-pit bull mix, to the Smithtown Animal Shelter.

Kobe had been living in a small box and was going to be used for breeding, and shelter workers immediately became concerned that Kobe had heart disease.

Doctors at Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island in West Islip confirmed Kobe has a stenotic pulmonic valve, meaning a valve in his heart was almost fused together, cutting off proper blood flow.

The cardiac condition, one of the top three cardiac diseases in dogs, greatly reduces a dog's lifespan.

Smithtown Animal Control Officer Denise Vibal said when shelter workers informed potential adopters of Kobe's condition, people backed off.

"Nobody wants to sign up for heartache," Vibal said.

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However, the public's interest in Kobe kept growing, especially on the town's social media pages.

"Any time we put any picture or video up of him, people go wild because he's so cute and sweet," Vibal said.

Doctors put Kobe on blood pressure medicine, which improved his condition and allowed surgery to be an option.

Kobe had the surgery last Wednesday. The surgery did help, but not as much as doctors had hoped.

They will recheck Kobe in a month when the swelling goes down.

Normally, the procedure lasts an hour, but Kobe's surgery took four hours.

Doctors said it was in part because his anatomy was not where it was meant to be as a result of backyard breeding and puppy mills.

Kobe will have to see a cardiologist throughout his life, but the good news is he now has a great home ready for him.

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