Puppy at the center of freak show custody dispute has surgery to remove fifth leg

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A major milestone has occurred in the life of a five-legged North Carolina puppy -- or, more properly, a once-five-legged puppy. The puppy, a Chihuahua mix named Lilly, had surgery late last week to remove her fifth leg.

Now, the Charlotte Observer reports, Lilly is newly able to run and play -- something she couldn’t do with the fifth leg present. Charlotte resident Allyson Siegel adopted the puppy (who was originally named Precious by her previous owner) to prevent her sale to a New York freak show. The freak show’s owner, John Strong, announced last week that he planned to fight for ownership of the puppy in court and told the Observer he’d seek an injunction to prevent the planned amputation of her fifth leg.

Siegel initially planned for Lilly’s surgery to take place this week, but decided to have it performed early in light of the threatened lawsuit. Lilly’s veterinarian expects her to make a full recovery, Siegel said. Strong has apparently not yet filed the lawsuit he spoke about last week.

Once Lilly has recovered from surgery, she’ll go to live with Siegel’s sister, who also lives in Charlotte. Separating from the puppy is ‘going to be really hard,’ Siegel told the Observer. ‘I always thought of myself as a cat person, but I’m going to have to re-evaluate.’


A Charlotte bar staged a fundraiser last week to help pay Lilly’s veterinary bills, according to the Associated Press. Siegel paid Lilly’s original owner $4,000 for the puppy, including $1,000 to repay a deposit paid by Strong, and has spent about $2,000 on her surgery.

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-- Lindsay Barnett