“The very center of your heart is where life begins”- Rumi

The heart. It represents our knowledge of emotions rather than reason. It is a symbol of love, compassion, and understanding. The heart is the very essence of life.

In August 2015, a couple found a “pit bull” puppy in an abandoned house in Ohio. Unable to care for the puppy, they surrendered her to Pinalope Animal Rescue. The 9 lb. puppy was lethargic with a 104 fever, full of worms and had blood blisters on her abdomen.  Although her survival seemed doubtful, her rescuers were determined to give her a chance, starting with her name, Vita, meaning Life. Vita was immediately treated with fluids, antibiotics and food through a syringe. She was estimated to be 7 weeks old. Over the next few weeks, Vita’s fever came and went. To get her fever down, she was given cold baths by volunteers who kept vigilant through countless nights.  She eventually began gaining weight, but unfortunately she was also diagnosed with a grade 3-4-heart murmur and blood was evidenced in her stool. Heartbreakingly, Vita’s suffering was a result of being starved. This disheartened puppy had been through so much in her short life.

ISF Grantee VitaFinally, by October, Vita was one -month fever free. Vita was playful and displayed a “happy go lucky attitude” with a very gentle side. Rescuers said, “She seems to greatly enjoy just being there for you knowing you are there for her. She also loves giving kisses and is a huge cuddle bug.” Sadly, by December, Vita’s heart murmur worsened and further testing was done. The new test results were devastating. Vita was suffering from severe congenital heart failure. Lora S. Hitchcock, DMV of Veterinarian Cardiologist, LTD, DACVIM indicated she was born with two heart defects; Pulmonic Stenosis, and tricuspid dysplasia with moderate tricuspid regurgitation. Vita, coming so far after being abandoned and heartbroken, literally had a broken heart. Pinalope Animal Rescue did not have the funds for Vita’s surgery so they reached out to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and we granted an Emergency Medical Grant to help pay for part of the surgery.

On April 19, 2016 Vita received Cardiac Catheterization and Balloon Valvuloplasty surgery. The surgery was successful and although she will require medication twice daily for the rest of her life, her life expectancy increased from 2 yrs. with limited activity to 10 plus years with normal activity. After surgery, she recovered in a calm, quiet foster home before returning to Pinalope Animal Rescue. The rescue had this to say to ISF, “We just cannot thank you enough. We searched high and low for whatever help we could get so that Vita could live a long full life and it was your program that came through to help make this possible. The Ian Somerhalder Foundation has been wonderful in helping with Vita and as I am sure many other animals. I know Vita is forever thankful.”

Vita’s journey is a poignant reminder, when people come together and follow their hearts the broken hearted can truly be healed.

Note: Vita is still looking for her forever home while residing at Pinalope Animal Rescue. Volunteers said, “When it is right, the perfect family will come along.”

Written by: Theresa Blangiforti

Edited by: Bob Stone

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