Nacogdoches puppy gets a fighting chance at life thanks to foster mom and social media

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches foster mom reached out through social media to find a way to get a tiny puppy the life-saving surgery he needed.

Zach's first foster mom, Debbie Houchin, made it possible for Zach to have a fighting chance in life.

Zach is just 7-weeks old and weighs 1.7 lbs. He's the only surviving Yorkie/Shih Tzu mix puppy in a litter of 3 and he's fighting for his life. One of his siblings died at the animal shelter shortly after birth and Zach's brother Cooper died Saturday, January 4, 2014 after being adopted by a loving family. 

Debbie Houchin went to the animal shelter to foster a large dog but went home with Sweet Pea, who had been severely abused in the past and her two puppies: Zach and Cooper.

"They all had a repertory infection when I brought them home," said Houchin.

Houchin noticed Zach seemed to always have milk coming out of his nose so she took him to the vet and learned he had a serious problem.

"All the food is not going into his tummy and it's sitting in his chest cavity," said Houchin.

The vet gave Zach 2 to 4 weeks before his illness would ultimately kill him unless he got a delicate and live-saving surgery.

"I don't just want to watch him die," said Houchin. "None of the veterinarians around here has that kind of experience and if they did you're looking at one surgery to open it now and as he grows another surgery to allow more food as he grows [the vet] said possibly 2 surgery and you're looking at possible $4-6,000."

So Houchin turned to social media for help finding a special needs rescue for Zach.

"I sat down and I just started searching on Facebook and the internet, special needs rescues," said Houchin. "Just with my first post on Facebook it was like 3,000 people immediately within like 8 hours." It was really overwhelming. It really was the way that people just responded. It was just so humbling and overwhelming."

And it was the special needs rescue S.N.A.R.R (Special Needs Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation) out of New York that stepped up to take Zach in. He just needed a ride and a Houston-woman who retired from the airline industry volunteered.

"We met [Debbie] in Livingston on New Year's Eve and I handed Zach off to her and of course she fell in love with him…then they flew to New York on New Year's Day and his new foster mommy Lori picked him up at the airport," said Houchin.

Zach has already visited with the surgeon who says he will use a scope in the next couple of days to examine Zach's insides

"The surgeon said when he did the surgery he wanted to know exactly what the problem was before he put him through that," said Houchin. "He still doesn't have but 50 percent chance but you know he had 0 here and if he has any chance of surviving at all he's going to have to have the surgery."

Houchin said she's worried about Zach but has a good feeling.

"You just do everything you can possibly do to help the animal and then it's out of your hands," said Houchin.

Houchin says Zach is in good hands and has people all over the United States praying for him and hoping that he can make it through this.

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