Rescued pup with cleft palate becomes Internet sensation - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rescued pup with cleft palate becomes Internet sensation

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Lentil doesn't’ let his health problems get in the way of being a lively puppy. Lentil doesn't’ let his health problems get in the way of being a lively puppy.
The French Bulldog Rescue Network is amazed by the attention Lentil is getting. FBRN President Joan Cleveland said Lentil “is a very special little puppy whose beauty is in his imperfection and indomitable will to survive.” The French Bulldog Rescue Network is amazed by the attention Lentil is getting. FBRN President Joan Cleveland said Lentil “is a very special little puppy whose beauty is in his imperfection and indomitable will to survive.”

By Lisa Granshaw, TODAY contributor

(NBC) -- Lentil, a 9-week-old French bulldog puppy with rare facial deformities, is melting hearts and gaining thousands of online supporters with his inspirational story. His foster mother, Lindsay Condefer, was quite surprised her puppy became a viral hit when multiple news outlets from all over the world covered the story.

"All of a sudden this baby turned my life upside down," Condefer, 34, told TODAY.com.

When Lentil was born Feb. 2 with a cleft palate and deformed nose and lip, The French Bulldog Rescue Network knew he would need special love and attention. As founder of the nonprofit Street Tails Animal Rescue and a pet foster parent with 12 years of experience, Condefer was a perfect choice to take in Lentil, who was the only surviving member of his litter. She took him home a couple days later and now feeds him through a tube every three hours.

Amazed by Lentil's fight to survive, Condefer created a blog and Facebook page to record his progress. His page has already garnered over 48,000 likes on Facebook.

"I have received more support than I can ever in my mind imagine possible. I don't know how it happened," Condefer said.

While she isn't sure why Lentil's story has touched the most hearts out of all the dogs she's fostered, Condefer hopes something good will come out of all the attention, such as raising awareness for rescue pets and those born with cleft palates.

According to Dr. Lewis, a "cleft palate is a congenital deformity that occurs during gestation in utero." Lentil's condition is rarer than the usual types.

Cleft palates usually cause problems in puppies shortly after birth, before the clefts are even noticed, said Dr. John Lewis, assistant professor of dentistry and oral surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Lentil's rare combination of deformities makes him more at risk for inflammation of his lungs and nasal passages, which can make it difficult to breathe. While he's survived longer than his siblings, he's not out of the woods yet.

Condefer is taking Lentil to see Dr. Lewis at the end of April, when surgical options for the puppy will be discussed. Multiple surgeries may be necessary, but there is hope that Lentil won't have to eat from a tube forever.

"Long-term, once the palatal surgery heals, Lentil should be able to live a normal life. He will always look a little different, but dogs don't tend to dwell on these things," Dr. Lewis told TODAY.com.

While Condefer waits for the next step in Lentil's care, she continues to be grateful for the amount of support and attention his admirable battle to live one day to the next has received. She hopes little Lentil's story will make a difference for pets in similar situations.

Visit Lentil's Facebook page.

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