Senior Dog Who Had Both Eyes Removed Finds Forever Family: 'Melted My Heart'

In Pittsburgh, a beagle has been given a second lease of life after being adopted just weeks after having both his eyes removed.

Beagle Rusty had Posterior Lens Luxation, a condition that means the support ligaments of his lens' weaken or break, causing the lens to dislocate from its normal position, falling backwards into the eye.

With his eyes beginning to painfully bulge, Rusty underwent a double enucleation surgery on October 4 at the Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh (HARP), leaving him with no eyeballs and his lids stitched up.

"Our veterinarians are very experienced at this procedure. We also felt it was best to do this surgery prior to making Rusty available for adoption, so that potential adopters were not worried about having to face this surgery in the future," said Michele Frennier, HARP's marketing director.

With Rusty being both a blind and senior dog at 9 years old, there was concern about his future and whether he'd find his own forever home.

Rusty after eye surgery
Rusty after his eye surgery. Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh

That was until Darrell Chulack and his family came along. "My daughter Kristen had seen Rusty on Facebook and kept telling me to adopt him. I went down to the Humane Society after two weeks of her nagging me and visited Rusty. He came over and started licking my fingers and his tail was wagging. He actually melted my heart," Chulack told Newsweek.

"I had tears in my eyes when I saw him in his kennel. He was getting ready to go for his evening walk," he said. "When Rusty came into the room with my daughter and I, I got down on the floor and laid there with him for 15 minutes and he never left my side.

"The reason I adopted Rusty was he already had enough pain and grief in his life. Rusty was a senior dog with a disability and my heart would not let me leave him there so I adopted him right there. My family and I gave Rusty a new lease of life."

Rusty had no success being adopted previously and came to the HARP through the Operation Petsburgh program, which transports at-risk animals from "areas where resources and medical care and limited to our shelters, giving them a second chance at life," the shelter confirmed to Newsweek.

Rusty before eye surgery
Rusty before having eye surgery. Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh

"Rusty came from one of our biggest partners, Humane Society of Parkersburg. Rusty had come to them as a stray. The staff adored him, but after about a month at HSP, there was no interest from the public to adopt him. Their staff felt Rusty might have a better opportunity to find a new family through HARP," said Frennier.

"There were some concerns about how he, as a blind dog, would tolerate the trip, being in an unfamiliar environment with other dogs barking, etc. Rusty did very well. He was the last dog taken off the transport and was carried into our shelter by Carla Prince, our relocation manager."

Because of the way Rusty acted, the humane society is convinced he has been blind for most of his life. "Staff and volunteers were instructed to gently approach Rusty so as not to startle him, but Rusty was very comfortable with everyone he interacted with. Slowly, we broadened his horizons with longer walks around the shelter and then one of our volunteers started to take Rusty to a nearby park," said Frennier.

"After several visits to the park, the volunteer noted an exchange that Rusty had with another small dog at the park. The owner of the dog shared that the dog had always been eager to meet other dogs, but became fearful and jumped away. His interaction with Rusty was the opposite. They sniffed around each other and Rusty's calmness and gentle demeanor put the other dog at ease. After this interaction, the volunteer noted that a home with another dog might be a good adoption for Rusty."

Rusty and his new family
Rusty on the day of his adoption with the Chulack family. Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh

Despite being ultra-friendly and comfortable, Rusty was unavailable for adoption due to his medical needs until October 7, three days after his surgery. The shelter was expecting a lengthy wait for Rusty, but it took just three weeks for the Chulack family to find and officially adopt him.

Now, Rusty has settled into his new home perfectly and even gained two canine siblings in the form of chihuahuas Bella and Chalupa, along with cat Tarzan.

"At first Chalupa didn't want anything to do with Rusty but after a few weeks she warmed up to him. He goes out to the bathroom seven times a day with his sisters," said Chulack.

"He has his own bed that he sleeps in most of the night and a good part of the day he loves his bed. He looks forward to his treats he gets during the day. We have four grandchildren and he gets excited when he hears them coming into the house"

According to HARP, Rusty's new family vowed that "even if he only has one more year, we'll make it a great one."

Rusty in his new bed
Rusty in his new bed. Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh