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Local Puppy Born With Cleft Palate Becomes Canine Celebrity And Ambassador

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Lentil with 1210's Rich Zeoli. (credit: WPHT)

Lentil with 1210′s Rich Zeoli. (credit: WPHT)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – He’s not even six months old or 10 pounds, but one feisty little pup already has nearly 100,000 fans on Facebook and an important mission.

His name is Lentil, and at first glance, he’s your typical French bulldog puppy – playful and curious.

But a closer look reveals that Lentil is special. Born with a severe cleft palate, he was expected to die or be euthanized, until his foster mom, Lindsey, stepped in and rescued him. Lentil was just 5.5 ounces at the time, and Lindsey had to feed him with a tube every three hours for months.

Still, she says her Philadelphia-based animal rescue organization, Street Tails, always works with special needs animals. Initially, Lentil was no different from any other rescue.

“I created the [Facebook] page as we would for any of our other animals, just to celebrate a life,” Lindsey says. “I never knew it would take off to where it did.”

But take off it did. Now, Lentil has over 90,000 Facebook fans that follow his every move. And trough fundraising efforts on social media, Lindsey was able to raise the money necessary for his cleft palate operation.

Now, Lentil is 18 weeks old, and Lindsey is using the pup to raise awareness about cleft palates. She spoke to Rich Zeoli of 1210 WPHT about Lentil’s progress, popularity and mission.

“He has a cleft nose, lip and had a cleft hard and soft palate, which was just recently repaired,” Lindsey explained. “When I originally took him in, his palate was just completely open up into his nasal passages.”

It wasn’t long until Lindsey realized that Lentil could act as an ambassador for children with the same problem. She partnered with CCA Kids, the Children’s Craniofacial Association, and has been using Lentil to raise awareness about cleft palates, both locally at CHOP and nationwide.

“The ironic thing with Lentil is that everyone loves him for his look, and that look is the same look that people are growing up [with] and being ridiculed about,” Lindsey says. “So it’s a good way to raise awareness…there’s no reason to shun someone.”

And even though Lentil’s condition is on the road to being fixed, the precious puppy’s work isn’t done. Next month, Lentil will have a “kissing booth” at a fundraising event for Hope Veterinary Services in Malvern, and then Lindsey and Lentil head to their first CCA Kids retreat.

For now, Lentil is content to spend his days playing with his friends at CHOP and hanging out in his foster mom’s Northern Liberties pet shop, Chic Petique.

For more information on Lentil or to become a fan, visit: https://www.facebook.com/MyNameIsLentil

For more on CCA Kids, visit: www.ccakids.com

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