Animals Stories

Stray dog found with a disfigured face is getting better every day thanks to rescuers

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“This article contains some graphic photos, but they are due to a medical condition, not from abuse, and the dog is not in pain.”

All dogs deserve a chance at love and happiness, no matter what they look like. Some dogs have medical issues that can make their appearance a bit hard to handle at first, but they still have hearts of gold on the inside.

That’s certainly the case for one dog, who was left with a disfigurement so severe that people couldn’t believe it was real—but thanks to his boundless spirit and a team of dedicated rescuers, he’s on the road to a better life.

A few months ago, a stray dog was found in Collinsville, Oklahoma and rescued by a woman named Carisa Ducharne. She was shocked by the dog’s condition—he was severely disfigured at the face for an unknown reason.

“He was skin and bones,” Carisa told News on 6. “You could see all his ribs and just so inflamed that he couldn’t close his eyes. He had so much swelling and inflammation in his face.”

The dog was named Phoenix, and he was brought to Skiatook Paws & Claws Animal Shelter.

When they shared his story on Facebook, people couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

“We received a ton of criticism for posting Phoenix’s picture,” the shelter wrote. “Many thought we had photoshopped his picture.”

But it was all too real—although the reason behind Phoenix’s condition wasn’t clear. He was cared for by Family Animal Medicine who searched for the cause.

Given how so many dogs are mistreated, it’s easy to assume his disfigurement was due to abuse. While vets didn’t rule that possibility out, they began to suspect that it was actually due to a medical disease.

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Hey phefighters!!! Just wanted to clarify a few things. We’ve been notified by HUNDREDS, of all the phony fake stories going around. Unfortunely I do not have the man power to get every single clout sucking page to remove their posts!!! I want to say thank you to all of you who take the time to clarify things that aren’t correct!!! Phoenix is happy, loved and continuing to receive treatment to maintain his quality of life!!! He does lots of “sleepovers” with his main veterinarian, maybe she’ll pull the trigger soon and become his official mom ?. I couldn’t imagine a better scenario!!! Again thank you all for loving sweet Phe, defending him and continuing to support!!!! #theriseofphoenix #pitbull #pitbullsofinstagram #rescuedog

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While investigating his health, the shelter made sure Phoenix felt at home. Despite how he looks, Phoenix is not suffering, and enjoyed his new life.

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“Phoenix is warm and comfortable; his belly is full, and he is being well cared for,” the vets said. “Even though his appearance may be alarming, the scarring and disfiguration are not indicative of his quality of life.”

The love and support Phoenix has received from the vets and shelter workers has completely turned his life around. In the past few months he’s gotten steadily better.

“He’s done nothing but improve every single day,” Carisa told News on 6.

Not only are Phoenix’s spirits high in spite of everything, but he’s also inspiring others.

“People with autoimmune diseases or burn victims, or just people anywhere having a hard time have reached out saying he’s inspired them,” Carisa said.

“It’s been super inspiring to be part of his story and it might not change the world, but it changes his world.”

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Hello!!!! Phoenix here! ???? A little update about me. I am still staying at FAM where I am so spoiled and am receiving the most special quality care. They are still consulting specialists and running tests to narrow down what’s going on. We know a lot about what I DONT have but still haven’t pinpointed what I do have. We hope to have more specific answers soon. Meanwhile I am in the best place possible for me physically and mentally. I am thriving. I am happy. I am safe. I am loved. I just want to let everyone know I am not available for adoption and may never be. If and when that time comes it will be wayyyyy in the future and it will be announced on our page. I am flattered everyone wants to love me so much, but due to me still being a medical enigma and not wanting to get bounced around, I’m staying put until it’s 100% safe and right for me to leave a veterinarians direct care. That being said, if you have applied for me, or considered doing so, that means you have an open spot in your heart and home for a fur baby. Did you know SPACAR has a TON of dogs who have been waiting months if not longer for a new home and they are perfectly healthy happy and ready for a family??? I appreciate all the lovely gifts and donations and love from everyone but you know what would be awesome?! If all these other doggies found homes!!!! Message SPACAR for their complete list of adoptables or watch their page. Foster or adoption, both are so helpful for SPACAR and other rescue groups. If you are not local, consider visiting your local rescue or shelter. Many other dogs will die today in city and rural shelters because of overpopulation and people’s irresponsibility. Not because of medical or behavior reasons, just to make space. I am one of the lucky ones. Many others are not. Please consider adopting another pup in my honor so they have a home for the holidays. If you adopt a dog because you saw this post I would love to hear about it and share their story. Message us and spread the love! Much love. Xoxo ❤️❤️ Phoenix #theriseofphoenix #pitbull #pitbullsofinstagram #rescuedog

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Phoenix has been meeting with various veterinarians specializing in skin disorders, who have been working hard to unravel the mystery of what’s causing the dog’s facial disfigurement.

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After exhausting every possibility they concluded that Phoenix has a rare auto-immune disease called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), and can finally get the disease under control.

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PUPDATE! ❤️?❤️? Phoenix had the privilege traveling to Kansas, where he met two fantastic Specialty Veterinarians, Dr Karen Trainor and Dr David Senter. These incredibly unique veterinarians specialize solely in diseases of the skin. Phoenix’s journey to Kansas actually started when we first rescued him. Back in November, in an attempt to solve Phe’s skin mystery, his veterinary staff here in Owasso at FAM took biopsies of his diseased skin and sent them to Dr Trainor. Dr Trainor is a veterinary pathologist who focuses on skin disease. Oh boy, what a brilliant mind. What Dr Trainor basically does is to look at Phe’s skin biopsy at the microscopic level and tell us how his skin is behaving. Next, Phe’s adventure took him to Veterinary Allergy and Dermatology clinic in Overland Park, Kansas. There he met Dr David Senter, a veterinary dermatologist. He also focuses his veterinary skills on patients with skin diseases. With both Dr Trainor and Dr Senter’s insight and the work done by Family Animal Medicine veterinarians, Phe is improving every day. He has gained weight. His skin is healing. He plays and barks. He chases balls and plays tug-o-war. He even sleeps on his own dog couch. His cheesy, sharky grin will always remain. The muscles on his head will never return. UV light/sunshine causes his skin to flare-up, so clothes and sunblock are a must. But don’t worry, Phoenix’s spirit is STRONG! Phoenix has a rare auto-immune disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). There are no specific tests to identify SLE. This is disease that is diagnosed after all other diseases are ruled out. Because it is an auto-immune disease, his own body attacks itself, making treatment sometimes difficult and tricky. But thank goodness for all the vets (here in Owasso and Kansas too) we now have his disease managed. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Phe would have never made his courageous journey without you.

A post shared by Phoenix (@phoenixthedawg) on

Much of his condition will remain permanent. The rescue says that Phoenix’s head muscles will never return, his “cheesy, sharky grin” will always be there, and he’ll need dog clothes and sunblock to protect his skin.

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Despite everything, Phoenix remains upbeat as ever. “He has gained weight. His skin is healing,” the rescue wrote. “He plays and barks. He chases balls and plays tug-o-war. He even sleeps on his own dog couch.”

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What’s your #sundayfunday look like?

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Phoenix has gotten many adoption requests, however it isn’t clear if or when he’ll be available: his treatment is still ongoing and he’ll need to be cleared by the vets first.

But for now, Phoenix is doing better than anyone could’ve ever imagined.

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They still think I’m brilliant. ?❤️??

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