Five-legged puppy narrowly escapes freak show thanks to good Samaritan

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A 3-week-old puppy in the North Carolina town of Gastonia was born with a small problem in the form of an extra, malformed leg. The puppy, called Precious, has four apparently normal littermates, each with four apparently normal legs. But Precious, a tan chihuahua mix, has a fifth, inexplicably white and rubbery leg with a six-toed paw.

Her owner, Calvin Owensby, rejected a veterinarian’s suggestion that she should be euthanized because of her deformity and instead told reporters he planned to eventually have the fifth leg amputated to allow her to move around more easily. But when word spread about Precious, Owensby was given an offer he claimed he couldn’t refuse: $3,000 to sell her to a Coney Island freak show.


When the Gaston Gazette reported his decision to sell Precious, Owensby received a number of angry calls from townspeople decrying the move. But one caller, Allyson Siegel of Charlotte, N.C., instead offered to buy the puppy for a higher price than the freak show was paying.

‘Poor thing, she was headed for a terrible life,’ Siegel told the Gazette. ‘As a kid, I’d been to a fair, and I’d been to all these sideshows, and I just didn’t think it was right for her.’ (For his part, Owensby said he didn’t know what lay in store for Precious at the freak show and instead believed he was selling her to ‘an amazing animals show.’)

Siegel is more of a cat person, she told the Gazette, and has never owned a dog; in fact, she may wind up putting Precious up for adoption through the Animal League of Gaston County. But in the meantime, the puppy is safe from sideshows and will definitely have the surgery she needs to move freely without the encumbrance of her extra leg.

-- Lindsay Barnett