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Rare “Cleft Palate” Dog Needs Surgery And A New Home

Aug 21, 2017 05:11AM ● By Theresa Gilman

Clefford was born with a cleft palate, something most dogs do not survivfe. credit MSPCA-Angell

(Editor's Note: the following information was provided by the MSPCA.)

BOSTON, Aug. 18, 2017 – For dogs, surviving a cleft palate—an opening between the mouth and nose that occurs when tissues separating these two cavities fail to grow together—is exceedingly rare because the condition makes it nearly impossible to suckle, resulting in most puppies born with the condition dying in their first days of life.

It’s fair to say that Canine cleft palate survivors as rare as the lunar eclipse that will soon descend on the Commonwealth. But a dog now named “Clefford” is proof that you can only blot out the sun for so long.

A one-year-old dog surrendered to the MSPCA-Angell’s Boston adoption center has defied the odds, surviving into young adulthood.  Now he needs help to overcome his next great challenge: a surgery to correct his condition so he can be re-homed. 

Clefford, as he has since been named by adoption center staff, was surrendered after his previous owners lost their home.  Now the MSPCA is pulling out all the stops to get him the help he needs.

“We think he’s the ultimate survivor, as well just a really loving dog and he deserves a chance at a healthy and happy life,” said Boston adoption center manager Alyssa Krieger, who is asking the public to help offset the cost of his $3,000 surgery.

Readers who wish to contribute toward the cost of Clefford’s surgery can click  “Our adoption center fund is depleted again after coming to the rescue for dozens of animals during a busy surrender season, so all donations are appreciated,” added Krieger.

Top Surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center on Deck
Surgery to repair Clefford’s cleft palate (which will also fix his wonky face!) will be performed by the chief of surgery at the MSPCA’s AngellAnimal Medical Center, Dr. Mike Pavletic.  Dr. Pavletic will close the gap to return Clefford’s palate to a normal state, which will allow him to eat and drink without food and liquids blocking his nasal passages—a dangerous event that could lead to choking, which he somehow has managed to avoid for the last year.

Clefford’s surgery is scheduled for early next week, after which he will be placed for adoption.

The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals. Please visit

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