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January 24. 2014 10:41PM

Pelham rescue hopes to save dog with heart defect

Tita, a young mixed-breed dog with a congenital heart condition, won’t live another year without life-saving surgery. (COURTESY)

PELHAM — Volunteers from a Pelham animal rescue are racing against time to save the life of a young mother dog, for the second time.

Tita, who’s just 1½ years old, arrived in the Granite State several months ago after raising a litter of puppies at a Florida animal shelter.

Knowing the risks of leaving the gentle dog in the high-kill shelter in Miami, members of the Animal Rescue Network of New England brought her to Pelham in hopes of matching her with a new family. But veterinarian Nancy Crowley of the Beverly Animal Natural Health Center discovered a concerning heart murmur and further tests confirmed Tita suffers from a congenital heart defect known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).

The life-threatening condition affects the way Tita’s heart functions, causing the pooch’s pint-sized heart to work twice as hard and causing blood to re-circulate into her lungs.

Crowley said the surgery needed to repair Tita’s heart usually costs upward of $5,000, but a New Jersey veterinary teaching hospital offered to perform the procedure at half price as part of its ongoing PDA study.

ARNNE has helped hundreds of needy dogs over a dozen years and has, at times, provided surgery to animals with medical problems.

However, Tita’s case is an especially dire one.

“She won’t live for another year without this surgery,” ARNNE volunteer Patrice Fotino said. “Her heart could fail at any time.”

Fotino noted that once Tita recuperates from the surgery, she won’t require any medication and nothing else would prevent her from living a full, happy life in a new adoptive home.

As Tita rests easily with her foster family in Pelham, ARNNE is scraping together funds to hopefully save the life of a broken hearted dog that’s already touched the hearts of her new friends in New Hampshire.

Fotino said the little dog was initially fearful of people, but is quickly warming up to the members of her current household, both animal and human. Tita enjoys playing with stuffed toys, going on walks and frolicking in the snow.

“She loves to cuddle and is a total love bug,” Fotino said. “If her foster mom is on the couch and there is even 2 inches of room between her and the other dogs, Tita will squeeze her body in between them.”

A Fundrazr page has been set up to solicit donations for Tita’s surgery. As of Friday, more than $500 had been donated. Another $2,000 is needed. ARNNE is also accepting applications for those wishing to give Tita a permanent home after she recovers from her surgery. For more information, or Tita’s fundraising page at

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