Dog at Long Island animal shelter to receive life-changing surgery

WEST ISLIP, Long Island (WABC) -- A dog at a Long Island animal shelter that has been unable to be adopted due to a heart defect will soon receive life-changing surgery.

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

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 (VMCLI) in West Islip confirmed Kobe has a stenotic pulmonic valve, meaning a valve in his heart is 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.

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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.

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 the condition and allowed surgery to be an option.

Dr. Josh Morgenstern, at VMCLI, will perform the surgery next month.

"We inflate a balloon across the heart valve that will tear apart the fused blood tissue to allow blood to flow more easily," Dr. Morgenstern said.

Dr. Morgenstern said the surgery should ensure, as much as possible, that Kobe has a normal lifespan.

"We hope that we can help Kobe and help him find a forever home," he said.

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Kobe will have to see a cardiologist throughout his life, so the shelter will be looking for owners willing to assume that responsibility.

"He has nothing but love to give, so we would love to hook him up with a wonderful family," Vibal said.

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