Funds sought for dumped, ailing, puppy mill dog

By Charlie Powell, College of Veterinary Medicine

Leah-dogPULLMAN, Wash. – No one knows how many breedings and whelpings Leah endured before the internal structures holding her uterus in place gave way, allowing the organs to slip outside her body.

Once the prolapse occurred, though, the 4-year-old cane corso (a large Italian breed closely related to the Neapolitan mastiff) was no longer of value to what is believed to be a Texas puppy mill. Her condition is consistent with her having spent her entire life there, where her ears were crudely sheared off as a puppy.

She was summarily dumped to wander near a high-kill shelter and face the inevitable.

Fortunately, a breed rescue group, Cane Corso Rescue, Inc., in Austin, Texas, found her and placed her with new owner Holli Tippin-Peters, of Clarkston, Wash.

“When she was rescued, the previous owners hadn’t even tried to cover her uterus; they just left it hanging outside her body so it was dry and cracked and Leah was miserable,” said Tippin-Peters.

Along Leah’s journey to the Northwest, a veterinarian recommended an immediate spay, which can sometimes help resolve a prolapse. While she was spayed, the damage was far worse than initial examination revealed.

“Leah’s remaining reproductive tract is lax and inverts outside her body, too,” Tippin-Peters said. “This constant irritation and interference with urination results in chronic urinary tract infections. At some point, it will have to be fixed, too.”

As if this were not enough, two weeks ago Leah developed breathing problems and then pneumonia. The recommendation was to get her to Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a CT scan.

The imaging revealed a tennis-ball sized abscess on her esophagus that also involved her right lung. This new problem suddenly jumped to become the first medical priority; a week ago, surgeons removed the benign mass and a portion of her right lung.

Initially, Leah did well but then the pneumonia worsened – a potential complication of any surgical procedure requiring a general anesthetic, especially those in the chest and involving the lungs. Leah is on a ventilator in the WSU Small Animal Intensive Care Unit. Her condition remains critical and costs are climbing but she is fighting and improving slowly.

“As human beings, we owe – I owe – this wonderful dog a chance,” said a tearful Tippin-Peters, a single mother of two daughters. “She’s young and yet has been through so much before this medical crisis. She still has a lot of love and life left to give us.”

She has set up a crowdsource fundraising site for Leah’s medical expenses at For the Love of Leah:

Find photos by Henry Moore Jr., WSU biomedical communications unit, at


Holli Tippin-Peters, Leah’s owner, cell/text 208-791-3520,
Charlie Powell, WSU College of Veterinary Medicine public information officer, cell/text 509-595-2017,