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August 17, 2016 03:55 PM

Cuda Cares is a unique soul with a rare disease. She is just one of 17 dogs on Earth known to have short spine syndrome.

The disorder causes affected canines to be born with an underbite, large neck, long paws and a small, sloped back.

Julie LeRoy, a former animal control officer, is now the proud owner of Cuda. Before living with LeRoy, the pit bull had a different owner, who bought her off Craigslist for $50 from a man breeding dogs in his house, reports Barcroft.

“I got called out to a complaint and the people in the house told me they rescued this pit bull puppy and they asked me if I wanted to see her. They told me that they couldn’t keep her,” LeRoy told Barcroft about how she ended up caring for Cuda. “I knew that it was against protocol, but I didn’t want to take her back to the shelter and having her become an official surrender, I knew that I couldn’t bring her back there.”

So LeRoy risked her job to save Cuda’s life, bringing her home instead of taking her into the shelter. Already the owner of four pups, LeRoy and her husband Scott were unsure how Cuda would fit in.

“Cuda is very much a diva she runs the house. I think we spoiled her that way because we just didn’t know what was gonna happened with her and we just wanted her to be happy her entire life,” LeRoy said about the place the dog took in the family. “She changed everything for me and my husband.”

Because of her unusual look, Cuda often attracts comments from others while she is out on her daily walks. But the happy humpback pup doesn’t let the attention negatively affect her. Instead, she has helped her family, new to North Carolina, make friends in their neighborhood by being a conversation starter.

LeRoy also shares photos of Cuda on Facebook, where she has over 21,000 followers, as a way to find and connect with other owners of dogs with short spine syndrome. Through these channels, LeRoy has learned more about the dog’s rare condition and how to help her.

But not all the comments are positive.

“People will come up and tell me that she is in pain, I’m being cruel by keeping her alive and that I’m exploiting her like she’s a circus side act,” she said.

While strangers may think Cuda is suffering, LeRoy knows her pooch is thriving. Aside from her physical differences, Cuda is just like any other beloved pet dog: happy, healthy and eager to make friends.

“Our whole life revolves around taking care of her and all of our dogs,” LeRoy added. “She is one in a million — I want to save our every moment with her entire life.”

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