Rare Six-Month-Old Puppy With Five Legs Gets Adopted

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic
Nieuwland Photography/Shutterstock

Bella is no ordinary dog. This six-month-old pup is the first five-legged dog brought to the Wisconsin Humane Society in its 145 years of operation. 

The extraordinary puppy was recently surrendered to the Wisconsin Humane Society in Kenosha. One thing stuck out from the start - the pup’s right back leg was wider than the other three legs and her paw had extra toes. 

I’ve never seen anything like this in a dog,” said Nancy Weiss, the shelter’s medical director. “Her radiographs are extraordinary.” 

Bella’s X-rays revealed that she suffers from an extremely rare congenital condition called dimelia, which causes the duplication of bones. Because of this congenital anomaly, Bella has what some might consider an extra leg. 

Typically, a dog’s hind leg consists of one femur, one tibia, one fibula, and four or five toes. In Bella’s case, her right back leg consists of two femurs, two tibias, two fibulas, and nine toes. Basically, it's like Bella has an extra leg inside her right hind leg.

There’s only a few documented cases in veterinary literature of [dimelia] being found in dogs. It’s more primarily seen in cattle. It’s also a condition humans can have as well,” said Angela Speed, the vice president of marketing and communications at the Wisconsin Humane Society.

During their research, the organization only discovered one other case of dimelia in a dog. But while Bella’s whole leg is affected, the Cocker Spaniel, the organization found, only had dimelia in their paw. 

There may be other cases that we’re not aware of, but it’s exceptionally rare. She’s like a unicorn of a dog. She's also beautiful and playful and wonderful.”

This condition causes Bella to have an abnormal gait while she walks or runs but it wasn’t the reason why the pup was surrendered to the shelter. Even though Bella technically has an extra leg, she is still active and likes to play and run, just like any other puppy.

The Wisconsin Humane Society consulted with a specialist to see if Bella could benefit from surgery or amputation. The veterinarians determined that since Bella doesn’t seem to be in any pain, the leg can stay as-is. 

Because she gets around just fine, she uses that leg when she runs and plays, and the risks of surgery like that, we are not pursuing amputation,” said Speed. Bella is a one-of-a-kind dog, and it’s hard to say what her future will look like. “But we know that today she’s a happy, otherwise healthy girl,” added Speed. 

Once she was deemed healthy Bella was put up for adoption and has found her furever home. Bella’s new owner, Mellisa, went to pick up Bella wearing a sweatshirt that read “Adopt the Special Ones”. The sweatshirt’s message references Bella’s unique physical appearance which sets her apart from other pooches. 

Interestingly, Bella wasn’t surrendered to the shelter because of her rare condition, but because she was very boisterous. This friendly pup will make an active and loving companion and fit right in her new family.

The Wisconsin Humane Society staff hopes that Bella’s adoption story will encourage other people to consider adopting a shelter animal looking for a furever home.

We’re hoping that Bella’s story does shed a light on the fantastic animals who are available at animal shelters. Across the country, shelters have been experiencing really high dog intake but slower dog adoptions and we’re feeling that same pressure right now so we’re hoping that this inspires people to consider adopting a shelter dog,” said Speed. 

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Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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