Paralyzed dog abandoned in Boston’s South End

Animal Rescue League looking for answers

BOSTON — The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Law Enforcement Department is seeking help from the public after a paralyzed French Bulldog abandoned in South End’s Peters Park in late April.

Officials announced that the approximately 3-year-old female dog nicknamed “French Fry” was found outside the dog park area. ARL told Boston 25 that they obtained surveillance video of the area. But while reviewing the video, it didn’t show the dog or any people during the weekend that they found the dog.

Good Samaritan found the dog and brought French Fry to a local veterinary clinic for examination.

Upon further review, staff confirmed the dog’s hind-limb paralysis and also noted she was dehydrated, suffered hemorrhaging in the left eye, and had an elevated body temperature.

The French Bulldog was then brought to another veterinary hospital for a neurological exam and MRI due to the paralysis. The exams revealed intervertebral disc disease, which ARL said was common in the breed. But due to the severity of the disease and further possible life-threatening complications, surgery was not an option for French Fry, and she was ultimately euthanized.

ARL told Boston 25 that while the dog’s condition was deemed genetic, abandoning an animal is a felony in Massachusetts and is punishable by up to seven years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Officers ask that if anyone recognizes the dog, they are asked to contact ARL’s Law Enforcement Department at 617-426-9170, ext. 110 or email cruelty@arlboston.org.

Some dog breeds come with built-in structural problems. With short legs and longish bodies, French Bulldogs are genetically predisposed to back issues, some of which can be devastating. 

Take French Fry. That was the nickname given to a young French Bulldog found abandoned in Peters Park five weeks ago. Her back was injured so badly her hind legs had become paralyzed.

“Such a large portion of her spinal cord was affected such that the prognosis of her ever regaining normal function was very, very poor,” said Animal Rescue League Veterinarian Danielle Youngman. “The dog never actually presented to the shelter. She was brought to an emergency clinic. From their reports she was in severe pain.”

In so much pain, Youngman said, that the dog’s agony caused blood vessels to break in her eyes. Veterinarians believe French Fry’s ruptured spine happened quickly -- and they do not believe it was caused by physical abuse.

The dog, about three-years-old, was euthanized.

But that is not the end of the story.

“Whenever there’s a medical issue with an animal it’s obviously very emotional,” said Mike DeFina, Animal Rescue League spokesperson. “It can be financially crippling.”

But abandoning an animal is not a legal option in Massachusetts, he said.

“It is a felony,” said DeFina, “It is punishable by a $5000 fine and upwards of 7 years in jail.”

Since the incident happened, the Animal Rescue League has been working to identify the couple witnesses say left the dog in the park, but to no avail. So, they are asking for the public’s help.

And while abandoning an animal is a crime, DeFina suspects there was not maliciousness involved here -- but perhaps dog owners simply overwhelmed having to deal with a severe medical condition in their pet.

Not that it’s an adequate excuse.

“The Animal Rescue League is here,” DeFina said. “Even if it’s just to counsel and talk and go over the situation. Surrendering is always an option is the dog or animal can be treated.”

One thing that is perhaps telling -- French Fry was left outside an area frequented by dog lovers. Such as Christalyn Rhodes, owner of Leo, her Golden Retriever “fur baby.”

“If he needed surgery or he needed something or he was paralyzed I would carry him around,” she said. Adding that Leo was part of the family.

Alyssa Ehrlich was carrying around her pup.

“I couldn’t imagine doing that unless I was having a lot of issues myself or something,” she said. “So it’s very sad. But I don’t think anyone does it out of malice.”

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