The first time Amy Vickers saw Captain, the pit bull terrier struggled to stand.

Just six weeks later, the seven-month-old puppy is more than $2,500 closer to a corrected pair of hind legs.

The dog suffers from swimmer-puppy-syndrome, a rare muscular condition that causes his legs to angle outward.

When he tries to stand, his stomach touches the floor. It’s a condition that left Captain’s attending veterinarians at the UF Small Animal Hospital perplexed, but one they were willing to help fix.

His therapy costs about $500 each month, and the surgery that may fix his legs is estimated to cost about $14,000, said Vickers, a 21-year-old UF health science junior.

After an initial visit to the vet, Vickers set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Captain’s expenses. As of press time, Captain still needs about $12,316 to fund his surgery.

“He absolutely deserves a second chance,” Vickers said, “but it’s going to take a lot more work.”

Vickers adopted Captain from his previous owners Nov. 27 in Panama City, Florida. It was only after she took ownership of him that she learned of his disability.

Christine Senneca, a third-year resident at UF Small Animal Hospital’s neurology department, was one of the first to see Captain when he came to the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in December.

“I was just passing by and was really interested in what he was doing,” Senneca said. “He was desperately trying to stand but couldn’t because his legs were completely splayed.”

Although he still isn’t strong enough to walk on tile and hardwood, physical therapy sessions have made it so Captain can now walk on soft surfaces like carpet or grass, Vickers said.

Meghan Brumby, a specialty intern at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s integrative medicine department, has been giving therapy to Captain since December.

“Captain has made very significant improvement since starting his physical therapy regimen,” Brumby wrote in an email.

The future of Captain’s recovery will be determined based on his health after he is full grown, Brumby said.

Because he was not treated as a newborn, like most afflicted with his disorder, Captain’s surgery is still in question, she said. If he gets the surgery, more physical therapy will likely be recommended.

“It is extremely rewarding to see the hard work that Captain, his owner and the Integrative Medicine team have put in truly paying off,” Brumby said. “I am grateful to play a (role) in giving Captain the loving life he deserves.”

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