Puppy described as a ‘walking miracle’ after near-fatal accident

TAMPA, Fla. — After more than 10 years in the animal rescue business, Cecilia Nieves has seen it all, and she doesn’t use the word “miracle” lightly.

“Our mission is [to help the] seriously ill or injured,” she said.

But when it comes to a recent rescue named Papaya, “miracle” is the only word that makes sense.

Cecile Nieves

“With the amount of trauma he’s been through, it’s a miracle he even made it,” she said.

Nieves said the 20-pound stray suffered from two broken legs, a dislocated hip, significant internal injuries and a rash that spanned half of his body after being struck twice by a car over Labor Day weekend.

“It’s even when you look at the x-rays like how this bone broke, but the one next to it didn’t break? That’s an impressive little case,” Nieves said.

She told ABC Action News that Pasco County Animal Services did the initial triage to stabilize him, before handing him over to his group Animalluvr’s Dream Rescue.

Since then, he has had several surgeries at the Veterinary Emergency Group in Tampa. And Nieves said he would need a lot more, especially for that rash.

“They may be talking about skin grafts, because it’s such a big wound. So the care of the wound alone is going to be a couple [of] weeks,” she said.

Ultimately, Nieves said it would likely take $10,000 to $20,000 and months of care before Papaya was healthy enough to be put up for adoption. And as they raise money to cover that care, Nieves is also calling on other pet owners to do their part so that rescues like his can focus on other “miracle” cases.

“As far as what to tell people, it’s just about being a responsible pet owner yourself, so we have less to try to help and we can focus on those who really care. we need most,” she said.

To learn more about how to donate to the papaya case, visit the rescue’s website.

Papaya the dog Cecilia Nieves 1.png

Cecile Nieves


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Jennifer R. Strohm