Emaciated Dog That Vets Thought Was Dead Revived in 'Christmas Miracle'

Animal control officers have hailed the revival of a severely emaciated puppy as a "Christmas miracle."

The dog was in such a frail state when he was taken to the Colonial Heights Veterinary Hospital near Richmond, Virginia, that the team initially thought he was dead.

As well as being severely malnourished, he was cold to the touch and completely unresponsive.

However, when veterinarian Dr. Stacy Riddle held her stethoscope to the puppy, she was surprised to hear a solitary heartbeat.

"The animal control officer laid him on the table and we all thought he was dead when he came in. It does not appear that they've been good at all. He was severely emaciated and his blood work indicates he has been malnourished," Dr. Riddle told WTVR.

"I got my stethoscope out and listened and at first when I listened, I didn't hear anything. And then like five seconds in, I heard one heartbeat."

The puppy's critically low blood sugar levels explained how he came to be in a vegetative state. "His blood glucose was registered at 21 [when it] should have been up to 100," Riddle said.

Such low levels of blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, can manifest through weakness, low energy, a loss of consciousness, and heart palpitations, according to PetMD.

The puppy was treated with a dextrose IV, and warmed up with a heating pad, warm fluids, and blankets.

Seven hours later, he had gathered enough strength to raise his head for the first time.

Soon after, he was able to eat, and to stand up and walk on his own.

"I would consider it a Christmas miracle," said animal control supervisor Amanda Sverchek. "That's just me. It's a comeback story.

"To see him up and walking around, wagging his tail. I think he'd make a fantastic pet."

Dr. Riddle said she felt "really blessed" to have taken care of him.

The staff at Colonial Heights Veterinary Hospital have named the puppy Hero, and will continue to look after him for several more weeks at least, in order to nurse him back to full strength.

The case echoes that of Molly-Moo, a 10-year-old German shepherd-mastiff cross that was found in a "pitiful state" on the streets of Birmingham in the U.K. shortly before Christmas last year, badly emaciated and suffering from a serious skin condition.

Within six months of her rescue she had undergone an enormous transformation, and has now been placed in the care of new owners.

Last month, 53 dogs, which largely comprised stolen pets, were rescued by police and animal campaigners as they arrived at an illegal slaughterhouse in Indonesia.

Veterinarian holding dog's paw in their hands
The puppy was in such a poor state that the staff at Colonial Heights Veterinary Hospital initially thought that he was dead. LightFieldStudios/iStock