Katherine's animal welfare organization the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation was contacted this week by a shelter asking for help and specialist care for a dog barely clinging to life. Abandoned by her owner and the victim of terrible cruelty and neglect, this is Penny's story. A story that needs to be highlighted so that collectively we can end this horrific abuse and suffering.


Penny was brought into a Los Angeles care center by her owner in a Rubbermaid plastic tub. She didn't try to stand up or jump out of the container and initially appeared to be an older dog who had a hard life in someone's back yard. However, it soon became clear that she was actually a young animal - less than 3 years old, blighted by a terrible catalog of injuries, infestations and infections, that rendered her barely able to stand.

Penny's jaw appeared to be broken or dislocated and she had chewed away the inside of her mouth in an effort just to eat food and stay alive. Unable to open her mouth, shelter staff were also concerned that she may have bitten off part of her tongue. Emaciated and weighing only six pounds - less than half her ideal weight, and with scabs covering her frail body, the evidence suggested that Penny's injuries had been sustained over a significant period of time.

A humane investigation was launched immediately, as it became clear she had been the victim of terrible neglect. The Heigl Foundation was contacted to ask if it could rescue her and help with specialist care. Staff immediately took Penny to veterinarian Dr. Stan Kunin for expert treatment and analysis. His full examination revealed some shocking results.


He found even, symmetrical, bilateral holes through the entire muzzle area that suggested, horrifically, that Penny's jaw could have been wired shut. The wounds had not been cared for and become necrotic and filled with pus. Her facial muscles had also become infected and there was complete atrophy, which explained why she was unable to open her mouth. Although the examination revealed no fractures and that Penny did have all of her tongue, she may require a skin graft due to the severity of infection.

Dr. Kunin also reported that her body is also very infected and further blood test are being undertaken to ensure that her kidneys and other organs are functioning correctly. She is also being tested for heartworm and ringworm, but has come back negative for mange.

Penny was given a medicated bath to remove the scabs and pus on her body and dosed with antibiotics to fight infection. She will need to be fed an entirely liquid diet until she can control her own jaw. Her inability to walk properly is due to both a severe lack of nutrition and muscle atrophy. Penny will require supportive care for several months until she is able to build muscle and gain strength.


Dr. Kunin puts her chances of survival at 50/50 and he chose not to euthanize her because she was so sweet and seemed to have the spirit to fight the ills ravaging her tiny body.

Please keep Penny in your prayers and hope that she makes a full recovery. If you would like to show your support and help with the costs of her medical care you can send a contribution using the Foundation's online form.