This is Nero. Nero means strong. When we chose this name for him, we had no idea how fitting it would turn out to be. This is Nero’s story.

In mid March, after receiving pleas from dedicated AHS-Newark Branch volunteers (Friends of the Newark NJ Animal Shelter) that broke open our hearts, we headed to their shelter to see how we could help. We didn’t really have the room (we still had a dog in boarding, in need of a foster home, and 14 other adoptables) but we were determined to rescue just a few dogs from this overwhelmed shelter.

We arrived and met so many wonderful dogs. Young dogs. Healthy dogs. Small dogs. Trained dogs. Well-kempt dogs. As always, there were MANY highly adoptable dogs at the shelter. Dogs who we knew, if rescued, would be adopted quickly after a short, inexpensive stay in our care.

But then there was Nero (called “Morgan” by the volunteers and staff). His middle-aged frame was large, but he was emaciated and his body looked worn. He hadn’t been eating due to stress; living in the shelter for many months (and who knows where before that) had not been easy on him. On top of that, Nero is a “pit bull” and his fur is black, two traits that studies have shown are obstacles to adoption, a fact we can’t think too much about or it causes us to feel depressed about society.

But more importantly, Nero was gentle, and calm, and loving when we met him at the shelter that day. He approached everyone he met like an old friend, as if to say “I really need your help, but I don’t want to trouble you too much.”

Nero was the one we chose to load up into our car that day (along with another of the shelter’s longest residents, another large “pit bull,” plus a darling Chihuahua). Nero was the one who needed us.

Immediately upon examining him, Dr. Scriffignano heard Nero’s irregular heartbeat. Something was not right. We arranged for Nero to be seen by a veterinary cardiologist within days. A series of tests by this expert has shown that Nero has a condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). What this means is that Nero’s heart is enlarged, and cannot pump blood efficiently. The decreased heart function affects all of his other body systems.

Nero’s prognosis is poor, as there is no way to stall the condition, or even stabilize it. His heart is literally too big for this earth. Nero could have a few weeks left with us, a few months, or perhaps even a year. And we are going to ensure that the time he has left on this earth is the best he has ever had.

We are currently accepting donations for Nero’s care, but what we need more than anything is a place for Nero to stay. Right now he is living at our partner vet’s office and while he is loved and cared for there, he deserves to live out his days in a home. He doesn’t require much – minimal exercise (his heart can’t handle exertion), good meals, and a soft bed. He is friendly with dogs and every person of every age he has met, but is a bit too interested in cats. We will cover all of his expenses for the rest of his life – thanks to our generous supporters. *He enjoys the company of other dogs however, we’re going to try to focus on homes without other pets, because our vet feels it’s most safe for Nero.due to getting excited and fainting during a dog meet where he collapsed for multiple seconds. Needless to say, this was very scary and has all of us concerned that the excitement of living with another dog would be too much for him. 

Nero means strong. And we have a feeling that if Nero is given the opportunity to live in a safe, stable home for the first time in his life, he just might have the strength in his big heart to stick around for a while longer.

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