When Henry’s owner abandoned the dog at a California veterinary surgery, the pooch’s prospects didn’t look good. In fact, vets had never seen anything like it. After all, the dog had a tumor that had gotten so large, it accounted for half of his weight.
In May 2016 Sherri Haughton took Henry to AAA Animal Hospital in Huntington Beach. At the time, Haughton claimed she had found the canine wandering along the seafront, and all appearances indicated that his owners had abandoned him.
Indeed, as soon as animal control officers saw Henry, they started to build a picture of what had happened. Simply, they suspected that his owners had ditched the unwanted golden retriever due to the massive lump on the side of his body.
Astonishingly, the swollen growth weighed a massive 46 pounds and extended along the right side of Henry’s belly. Indeed, the swelling made it difficult for Henry to walk. Not surprisingly, the sight of the bloated pup broke animal control officer Valerie Schomburg’s heart.
“He couldn’t move around very much, but definitely still wanted to live life,” Schomburg explained to The Dodo in 2016. “He would bark, wag his tail and then when you got close, he gave you kisses. His zest for life was still there. He was just weighed down a little.”
“Everybody who has seen him has kind of taken up a [sigh] ‘Oh, my Lord,” Schomburg told CBS Los Angeles at the time. “But the whole time, he’s trying to give you kisses and wagging his tail.” With no time to lose, Schomburg took Henry to see veterinarian Karla Nichols.
The sheer size of Henry’s tumor shocked even Nichols, but she did what she could to help. Yes, the animal expert decided to take on Henry’s case. In fact, she didn’t charge for some procedures and instead accepted a $500 grant Schomburg had received for the desperate stray.
Explaining her kind-hearted decision, Nichols told CBS Los Angeles, “It was already very difficult for him. It was very obvious that his right front leg was having a hard time supporting his weight so we knew we had to do something for him. And he was such a sweet dog.”
However, with that said, the vet was unsure just how to tackle Henry’s growth given its size. “Most vets that we’ve asked and have been involved in his story have never seen [a tumor] that big,” she told KTLA in 2016. But Nichols decided to go ahead and operate on Henry, although the surgery did pose some potential complications.
Still, surgeons successfully removed Henry’s monstrous tumor during a three-hour surgery. A subsequent biopsy also found that the lump was cancerous. But, thankfully, the cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else in his body; it seemed that the vets had gotten to the dog just in time.
Then, just five days after the surgery, footage showed that Henry was fighting fit. He had a bald patch on his belly and a scar across his side, but otherwise he looked to be in excellent health.
Now that Henry was well on the way to recovery, police turned their attention to finding his owner. Soon, animal officers began to suspect Sherri Haughton, the person who had initially dropped Henry off at the hospital. So, in December 2016, a court charged Haughton with four counts of animal cruelty.
Her trial was scheduled for January 2017. If found guilty, Haughton could face two years in prison. Prosecutors claimed that a vet had advised the alleged owner to seek medical advice over the dog. Additionally, they claimed she had failed to do so before taking Henry to the animal hospital.
According to Schomburg, prison was a very real possibly for whoever failed to attend to Henry’s tumor. “It’s very shocking that [the tumor] got that big and that someone wouldn’t do the right thing,” she said. “Whoever did this to Henry might have to answer to it.”
Meanwhile, Henry went to live with a foster family. Plus, the family would continue to monitor the retriever’s progress until a forever home could be found. And according to animal control, Henry was now a “happy dog.”
Giving an update on the dog, animal control officer Nick Ott said, “Henry is doing a lot better now. He’s very happy, he’s very mobile. He’s still receiving ongoing treatment to make sure the tumor doesn’t grow back.”
At a press conference, Ott also took the opportunity to remind Newport Beach citizens that help was there if they needed it. Indeed, Henry’s owner would have needed to pay just $81 to hand the pet over to the city’s animal control officers. Then, the officials would have paid any medical costs necessary.
“There are a lot of resources out there for people who need assistance with their animals,” Officer Ott said in December 2016. “Whether it be veterinary care that they can’t afford, or other types of assistance. There’s assistance out there available if you need it.”
“What we don’t want to see [is things progressing] beyond what is reasonable to the point where it would constitute animal neglect,” he continued. District Attorney Jennifer Malone agreed. “We need to keep in mind that we have certain responsibilities for care and treatment of our pets,” she said.
As for Henry, doctors found another tumor that means he will likely need monitoring for the rest of his life. However, Henry did eventually find a home. Indeed, the team at Newport Beach Animal Shelter fell so in love with the sweet dog, they couldn’t let him go. “Henry will live out the rest of his life in a loving home, surrounded by people who love him and his fellow rescue ‘brothers and sisters,’” the shelter revealed in a statement in 2016.