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Dogs, cats face obesity issues

Published: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 8:00 a.m. CDT

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NORMAL (AP) — Using a bed sheet as a sling to help support Moby's rear left leg, Jenn Jobe took the 90.4-pound beagle mix for a walk.

Even though Moby needed the support of the makeshift sling during his 15-minute walk, his tail was wagging.

"He's very happy, very motivated and very loving for being so overweight," said Jobe, animal care manager at the Humane Society of Central Illinois in Normal.

Jobe on Aug. 28 was walking Moby outside the humane society, where staff, veterinarians and volunteers are working to get the obese dog to build muscle and lose fat prior to a needed left knee surgery.

Moby has become Central Illinois' poster dog on pet obesity.

"He's an extreme example," said Dr. Jamie Schertz of Town & Country Animal Hospital, Normal.

Moby, who is 5 years old, was brought to the humane society July 8. His previous owner could no longer take care of him for medical reasons and couldn't afford the surgery that Moby needed, Jobe explained. It's unknown how Moby injured his knee.

The previous owner said the dog already was overweight when he got him two years before. Humane society staff believe the dog ate a lot of table scraps, wasn't taken for walks and received no medical care for at least two years.

When he was brought to the humane society, he couldn't walk. He got around by pulling himself forward with his front paws and scooting his back side.

The dog had a different name but Jobe named him Moby, short for "immobile."

The next day, humane society representatives took Moby to Schertz.

"He was brought in on a stretcher," Schertz recalled. "He was unable to stand on his hind legs because he was so overweight. He had almost no muscle tone in his back legs."

The injury to his left rear leg is called a luxating patella, meaning his knee cap pops out of place, she said.

He weighed 93.6 pounds — at least 40 pounds overweight.

Schertz put him on anti-inflammatory medicine to help to ease the pain. He was given a supplement to help lubricate his joints. She put him on a prescription weight loss diet. And she prescribed exercise.

Humane society staff walk Moby for 15 minutes three times a day. Moby now does some walking without the sling.

"He's doing fantastic," Schertz said. While 3.2 pounds of weight loss doesn't sound like a lot, it has happened while Moby has gained muscle, Schertz said.

Schertz wants Moby to lose about another five pounds and gain more muscle tone before he undergoes the knee surgery.

"We need to make sure that Moby can support himself on his good (rear) leg before we do the surgery on his bad leg," she explained.

Schertz hopes that the surgery can be performed in about a month. Surgery and medications will cost $1,200 and the humane society is collecting money at its headquarters, 423 Kays Drive, Normal, and on its website — www.hscipets.org — to help cover the expenses.

After Moby recovers, the humane society hopes that he will be adopted by a family committed to continue his healthy eating and exercise regimen.

For Moby to lose 40 pounds will take several years, Schertz said. Dropping weight too quickly could cause liver damage, she said.

"The ultimate goal for Moby is to get to a weight that's manageable for him," Schertz said. "Hopefully, he'll have a productive life in a healthy environment."

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