A dog, who was discovered with a shoelace embedded in its neck, has found a new lease on life thanks to a Houston-based rescue organization.

Feb 14, 2023

Warning: The images below contain graphic content. Please scroll down to the bottom to view Gus's current appearance.

Upon seeing a photo on Facebook of a stray dog with an extremely swollen head, animal activist Rob Acuna and a group of friends were compelled to locate and assist the dog. The canine had been wandering in the vicinity of a Southeast Houston apartment complex for more than a year and had endured unthinkable abuse.

Despite his frail and emaciated body, his head had swelled to an unnatural size. The dog displayed skittish behavior and had valid reasons to be wary of people, given the mistreatment he had endured in the past. His rescuers managed to block the room's entrance and secure him in a kennel. They christened him Gus and transported him to Houston K-911 Rescue for medical attention. Gus' appearance moved the rescuers, who often encounter cases of animal abuse, but Gus' case was particularly heartbreaking. Not only had someone inflicted harm on him, but for more than a year, nobody had attempted to intervene until Rob and his companions arrived. According to Anna Barbosa of Houston K-911 Rescue, who spoke with KHOU:

For an unknown duration, nobody took any action to assist him, and he deteriorated to that state.

Gus was fortunate that his bloodwork turned out normal, and he surprisingly tested negative for heartworms. However, the veterinarians' diagnosis had more negative news than good. They revealed that the shoelace had been tied tightly, causing it to embed itself into his skin, and had likely been there for over a year. Additionally, they discovered 25 pellets scattered throughout his body, indicating that someone had shot him with a pellet gun. This was an unfortunate revelation for the poor dog.

After extracting the shoelace, a substantial, open wound that encircled his neck was left. Gus was provided a respite before the wound was assessed and cleansed by the veterinarians. The subsequent examination revealed the presence of tough scar tissue close to significant arteries in his neck that could impede blood flow. The surgeon decided it was wise to transfer him to a Texas A&M clinic to have the scar tissue removed by a specialist.

Upon arrival at the clinic, Gus underwent an immediate assessment and surgical procedure. The medical professionals were able to eliminate approximately 2/3 of the scar tissue in his neck. However, he began to bleed excessively, and they decided to halt the surgery to guarantee his safety and give him a blood transfusion.

Gus spent the Labor Day weekend recuperating. According to Houston K-911 Rescue, he is now consuming full meals and is in a stable state, but his last surgery is yet to come. Physicians still need to remove the problematic scar tissue surrounding his arteries.

Houston K-911 Rescue is optimistic about his prospects and is making an effort to keep him relaxed. Gus has individuals rooting for him and treating him with compassion, possibly for the first time. He can rest and eat without experiencing any discomfort, and his future seems hopeful. When he returns to the shelter, the rescue has arranged for him to have steak and ice cream. Additionally, he will be thrilled to learn that a companion of his at the apartment complex, a small stray dog, was taken in by the rescue over the weekend!


It has been 9 months since we last shared this story, and Gus has made tremendous progress! While we expected him to recover, we never anticipated how stunning he would become!

After spending several months with a caring foster mom, Gus was eventually adopted by Anna Barboza, the founder of Houston K-911 Rescue! Now, he is living the joyful life that he always deserved with his loving family.