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Meet the 'tongueless wonder dog' in need of a forever home

Despite having his tongue cruelly cut out, Heart loves everyone he meets and can now eat and drink on his own.
Sarah Barnett / ACCT Philly
/ Source: TODAY

A lovable dog named Heart needs someone special to open their heart and home to him.

In April, passersby noticed a pit bull mix stumbling down a street in Philadelphia. The dog was bleeding from his mouth and neck and seemed disoriented. So the good Samaritans brought him to ACCT Philly, the city’s only open-intake shelter.

Once there, the veterinary team discovered most of his tongue had been cut out — not surgically, and not accidentally.

“Sometimes you might have a dog who ate an electrical cord or something like that, but our vets ruled it out,” Sarah Barnett, director of development and communications at ACCT Philly, told TODAY. “And it was very, very recent. It was still raw.”

The team at ACCT Philly, a nonprofit shelter that takes in over 15,000 animals each year, was shocked to discover someone had cut out Heart's tongue.Sarah Barnett / ACCT Philly

The dog — dubbed Heart for his friendly demeanor — spent about a week at the shelter, but he struggled to swallow food. Barnett volunteered to foster him to give him extra care and help him learn how to eat again.

Initially, she would roll wet food into meatballs and stick them as far down his throat as possible.

“If I tried to give it to him without doing that, it would just get stuck in his mouth and he would just chomp incessantly and wouldn’t get any down,” she said.

A veterinarian suggested kibble might be easier for him to learn to throw back into his throat. With the help of a raised bowl, Heart can now eat on his own. He even sits like a good boy until it’s time to chow down.

“Heart is incredibly resilient and had bounced back in many ways,” she said. “He’s a really good-natured dog. He loves people. He’s super trusting.”

Despite horrific abuse, Heart loves and trusts everyone he meets.Sarah Barnett / ACCT Philly

Heart would benefit from a home where he feels safe, with a loving person (or people) and possibly another friendly dog to help build his confidence, according to Barnett. The puncture wounds on his neck appeared to be dog bites, so while he delights in meeting new dogs once they’re nose-to-nose, he’s hypervigilant on walks and lies down whenever he sees an approaching dog.

A trainer told Barnett something traumatic must have happened to Heart that he didn’t see coming.

“He’s going to need somebody who’s going to be a leader for him and be his rock — basically help him continue to learn the world’s not super scary,” she said, adding, “What’s remarkable to me, given what he’s been through, is that he’s not even remotely scared of people. Everybody who comes by, he’s very thrilled about.”

Heart loves affection — particularly in the form of a belly rub. The 45-pound dog still tries to snuggle in laps and give doggie kisses, but, of course, can no longer lick.

“I will admit I hadn’t made that connection until the first time he kind of nuzzled my face and I realized what he was doing was trying to give me kisses,” Barnett said. “And my heart just broke because I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I forgot about this.’”

Heart, who is around 2 years old, is an affectionate, personable pup.Sarah Barnett / ACCT Philly

Barnett knows Heart will bring unbridled joy to his forever home, and said potential adopters don’t need to live in Philadelphia. The most important thing is finding the right fit — something she hopes will happen soon.

“He’s a very special dog,” she said. “It’s a mystery to me why he hasn’t been adopted yet.”

If you are interested in adopting Heart, please visit: bit.ly/AdoptHeart