Puppies with life-threatening condition getting a second chance

River and Rain are being cared for by the Lucas County Pit Crew
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 7:22 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - An incredible story of determination and team work. Two young puppies with serious medical issues were surrendered to the Lucas County Pit Crew last month. River and Rain have what’s known as swimmer’s syndrome.

Jean Keating is the head of the volunteer rescue group. She says the condition is basically a lack of communication between the brain and limbs. Because of that, it looks like they are swimming when they move. The puppies are doing all kinds of therapy to strengthen their legs including stretches, range of motion exercises and swimming.

River has been swimming in a volunteer’s pool several times a week, and Rain swam for the first time Tuesday. Even a minute of moving all four legs while swimming is a lot of work for the puppies. In spite of all the challenges they face, the pups have made a lot of progress in just a matter of weeks.

“They have wonderful personalities. Everybody who meets them feels better than they did before they came up to them. Their determination is incredible. It is inspiring to people to see how hard River and Rain try,” said Keating.

Because of the time commitment the two are being fostered in separate homes. Keating is fostering River, and Jane Kirkham is caring for Rain. Kirkham is a veterinary assistant at West Toledo Animal Hospital, and takes Rain to work every day.

“It is so rewarding to see progress and know an animal that someone else may have thrown away is getting a second chance at life because of your help, and the help of so many others,” said Kirkham.

Vets say River and Rain have a good shot at leading happy and healthy lives. The hope is for River to be able to walk in the next few weeks. Jane says Rain may need surgery or a cart to help her get around. However, she says those decisions will be made after they see how much progress Rain can make on her own.

The Pit Crew can always use donations and volunteers. To learn more log on to

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