Meet Quasimodo, 1 of just 13 dogs with short spine syndrome

Image 1 of 4

Photo credit: Secondhand Hounds

Meet Quasimodo, one of only 13 dogs in the world diagnosed with short spine syndrome. This 4-year-old German shepherd was found as a stray and brought to a shelter in Kentucky. But this week, "Quasi" made his way to Secondhand Hounds in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where he will hopefully find his forever home.

After years of neglect, Quasi had a collar embedded in his nearly non-existent neck. Volunteers named him after the hunchback Disney character just before he arrived in Minnesota Thursday night. He's been stealing hearts ever since.

“He's a great dog,” said Rachel Mairose, founder and executive director of Secondhand Hounds. “He'll have a lot of trials and tribulations, but he's a lover and he's going to find a home, I'm sure.”

Quasi doesn't appear to suffer much pain from his condition, but he’s still undergoing tests. Through x-rays, Dr. Susan Miller can see Quasi has a full-size head and legs, along with a crooked spine, missing vertebrae, a shrunken stomach, one testicle and a corkscrew tail. His insides are compressed like an accordion.

“I have never seen anything like this,” Dr. Miller said. “It's very rare. Not a lot of research is out there.”

In dogs, this is only the 13th recorded case of short spine syndrome anyone at Mission Animal Hospital can find.

“We think a genetic defect -- not sure if it's inbreeding,” Dr. Miller said. “Something along the way caused his spine not to fully harden, so they think the softened vertebrate just compressed either in utero or very soon after birth, and then at some point it hardened, but it didn't harden soon enough.”

Quasi will be having surgery to ensure he's comfortable and neutered, and ready for a new home.

“He doesn't know anything is wrong with him -- that's the great part,” Mairose said. “And we don't think anything is wrong with him. We just hope we can keep him comfortable and happy and find a great forever home for him.”

Secondhand Hounds has already had some interest in adopting Quasimodo, but they are going to be extra careful in which new owner they select. Nothing about his genetic birth defect is life-threatening, but there are complications that will need extra attention.

You can track Quasi the Great’s progress on Facebook and learn more about Secondhand Hounds at