By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philly dog born with a rare abnormality has captured the hearts of people across the country. Now, he has become an “ambassador” for children who share his condition.
The dog’s name is Lentil, and he’s all the rage on social media. His mom is using his fame to help children who are often invisible.
But Lentil has no idea he’s famous. The six-month-old French bulldog puppy was born with life-threatening medical issues.
“He was born with a cleft nose, lip, hard and soft palate,” says Lindsay Condefer, the woman who raised him.
Lentil couldn’t eat and might have died were it not for rescuers like Lindsay. She runs Street Tails Animal Rescue in Northern Liberties.
“I was tube feeding him since he was two days old,” she explains.
Lindsay started sharing Lentil’s arduous journey online, and it soon went viral. Donations poured in — more than enough for his delicate surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary hospital, and to help two animal shelters.
“I started to get a lot of emails from mothers with children with cleft palates,” Lindsay says.
And she realized Lentil could help those children as well. He’s now working in hospitals, going to events, and meeting kids like Daniel Pfeiffer, who has Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, which causes the head to grow abnormally.
“He makes a bridge of kids who have normal stuff and kids who have what I have,” Daniel says.
Daniel’s father, Greg Pfeiffer, adds, “And then maybe that helps them understand that they might look a little different, but they are just kids.”
At the Children’s Craniofacial Association retreat in Orlando, Lentil raised more than $8,000. It’s just a start.
“It’s really a beautiful thing for us to be able to give back to them and show them the world is with them, too,” says Lindsay.
You can help Lentil’s causes. He invites donations to the following organizations:
Children’s Craniofacial Association: www.ccakids.org and https://www.wepay.com/donations/help-to-send-a-family-to-ccakids-2014-retreat
Street Tails Animal Rescue: www.streettails.org