Texas dog found with shoelace embedded in neck, severely swollen head, saved by animal rescue

By Madeline Farber

Published September 05, 2018

A roughly 10-month old dog in Houston, Texas, made headlines this week after he was found with a shoelace around his neck, causing his head to swell to an enormous size.

The dog, named Gus by his rescuers, was first spotted roaming a busy street last Wednesday, Anna Barbosa, president of Houston K-911 Rescue, which has now taken responsibility for Gus, told Fox News.

Once captured, rescuers took Gus to an emergency veterinary clinic. Veterinarians removed a shoestring that had been wrapped around the pup’s neck and was deeply embedded into the tissue. Barbosa said the shoestring was likely placed on Gus’ neck as a puppy, but was never removed. As a result, the lack of circulation caused his head to fill with fluid.

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The pup has undergone surgery to remove the scar tissue around his neck.  (Houston K-911 Rescue/ Anna Barbosa )

“It’s really awful, the way these homeless dogs have to live,” Barbosa said, noting Gus is the second dog her organization has rescued in recent months that’s suffered from a similar condition (that dog, Ralph, which was found with a wire chain around his neck, has since recovered and was adopted by a family in Wisconsin).


Due to heavy scarring around the circumference of Gus’ neck, the pup was later sent to a soft tissue specialist at the Texas A&M Small Animal Clinic in College Station. There, veterinarians were better equipped to treat the scarring, especially around his jugular vein.

Since arriving at the hospital, Gus has undergone a surgery to remove the scar tissue. However, surgeons were forced to stop partway through the procedure because Gus lost too much blood, Barbosa said.  He was given a blood transfusion, but will likely need another surgery to remove the remaining scar tissue.

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Gus may need another surgery, Barbosa said.  (Houston K-911 Rescue/ Anna Barbosa)

An X-ray revealed Gus had at least 28 pellets throughout his body. Local law enforcement officials have since opened a case to further investigate who may have injured the dog, Barbosa said.

“There is so much cruelty. Some people [shoot] because they want the dogs off their property or they do it for grins; you never know why people do this stuff,” she said.

Gus is currently recovering at the clinic, where he has also undergone both cold laser therapy and massage therapy to help reduce swelling in his head.

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Barbosa said she is hopeful that Gus will make a full recovery so he can be adopted.  (Houston K-911 Rescue/ Anna Barbosa)

“He’s looking great,” Barbosa said, adding Gus’ nose has become more visible as some of the swelling has gone down. “He's afraid of everything, but he’s so gentle.”


The dog has been in "so much pain" that he "doesn’t really have a personality yet,” Barbosa said, but he'll lift his head when someone says his name.

“So I think he’s starting to make the connection,” she added.

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Gus was also shot with a pellet gun, Barbosa said.  (Houston K-911 Rescue/ Anna Barbosa)

“We as rescuers are overwhelmed with the situation here in Houston, if this helps the animals get a voice then his story will be worth it,” Barbosa said, citing the roughly 1.2 million stray dogs in the city. A large number of those dogs are found Houston’s Fifth Ward, a notoriously low-income neighborhood, The Boston Globe previously reported.

“He’s a representation of the homeless animal crisis that we have,” she added.

Eventually, like with any rescue animal, Barbosa hopes Gus will find a loving home.

“[He’s in] survivor mode. Hopefully with time, he will be a different dog than the one we took up there," she said, adding that a Facebook page has been set up for Gus as he continues his journey to recovery.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.