Obese dog in US sheds half his weight for second chance at adoption

A dachshund arrived at his foster family's home with the name "Fat Vincent" but he will be up for adoption as "Skinny Vinnie".

Eight months ago, Fat Vincent was an overweight dog with grim prospects. He had just been surrendered over to a county animal shelter after his owner had died.

Reports said that he tipped the scales at 17kg, double the healthy weight for a seven-year-old dachshund. He had high cholesterol and his size took a toll on his back, putting him at risk of nerve damage.

But his life took a turn in September 2015 when members of a canine rescue organisation in Houston, Texas, stepped in to help.

Ms Mary Tipton, the intake coordinator for K-9 Angels Rescue and a member of the board of directors for Harris County Animal Shelter, happened to be at the shelter for a meeting when she spotted Vincent.

She then posted a picture of the pup on Facebook and quickly found a foster parent in rescuer Melissa Anderson.

But Vincent's road to recovery wasn't easy.

My FIRST DAY on the road to my new life.

Posted by Skinny Vinnie of K-9 Angels Rescue Houston on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Veterinarian Sharon Anderson told CNN on Thursday (April 7): "He was friendly, but I could barely discern between his laying down and standing up positions.

"At his original Body Mass Index (BMI), he was at a severe risk for arthritis, diabetes, reduced mobility, increased physical injury that can lead to paralysis of the hind legs, cancer, respiratory disease, kidney disease, pancreatic and shortened life expectancy," she added.

Vincent also suffered from vomiting and upset bowels when he first ate healthy dog food, said foster parent, Ms Anderson.

She added: "I am not sure what the previous owner fed him, but I think it was all fast food. He was literally detoxing the first week."

Here I am with Ms. Lauren - before I got my awesome swimming vest!

Posted by Skinny Vinnie of K-9 Angels Rescue Houston on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

She placed Vincent on a new lifestyle regime. To lose weight, he ate special dog food, exercised every day and played with other dogs in the yard.

She also started him on a water aerobics regime to help take pressure off his strained joints.

Vincent's rescuers also charted his progress on his Facebook page by posting regular updates on his weight and his weekly exercises.

I'm down .4 pounds to 34.8! Ms. Melissa seemed disappointed. Dr. Anderson explained to her that I'm a small dog--not a lab! It's almost a half pound. In dog pounds, that's pretty darn good!

Posted by Skinny Vinnie of K-9 Angels Rescue Houston on Thursday, September 3, 2015

The page has since garnered more than 3,000 likes, with supporters leaving messages of encouragement for Vincent and his rescuers.

Today, he cuts a healthier frame at 8kg, having shed about half of his original weight when he was first rescued.

He has also lowered his cholesterol reading from 286 to 166.

Distracted on morning walk before weigh-in!

Posted by Skinny Vinnie of K-9 Angels Rescue Houston on Thursday, February 25, 2016

With his new look, Vincent is welcoming his second life - and possibly - a new home.

"The perfect home will continue his daily walks and the monitoring of his food," said Ms Anderson. "Most important is having lots of love to give!"

This article was first published on April 8, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.