The Heartbreak of Rescue: Remembering Digby

UPDATE: We are deeply saddened to announce that our Digby passed away last night after struggling over the last several days with unexplained internal bleeding. He seemed to lose blood as quickly as we transfused it into him, and he did not come back to us following surgery, which we hoped would explain the source of the bleeding. Digby’s loving foster moms were with Digby at the end, and told him that they adopt him – that he will always be theirs and they his.

Digby came to United Hope for Animals from the Baldwin Park Shelter, where he was suffering from Demodex mange. While a bald Pit Bull in a crowded shelter might normally be easy to overlook – Digby had unparalleled charisma and charm, winning the hearts of every volunteer and shelter employee he met. Over the last fourteen weeks, under the attentive eye of his foster family, Digby thrived and grew back a beautiful coat of fur that made him as handsome outside as he was beautiful inside.

Sweet face Digby, recovered

Sweet face Digby, recovered

Digby was an extraordinary dog – an ambassador for his often-misunderstood breed – who loved all people big and small, dogs, and cats. He was a cheerful boy who loved to swim, give kisses, and could always be enticed into a play session. Digby’s gentle soul will be deeply missed.

Our condolences and deep gratitude go to Digby’s foster moms, Katja and Tuppet. Their compassion and commitment to Digby made it possible for him to know love, joy, and companionship – and to feel good — like never before. They are Digby’s heroes – and now his forever family. While we wish it could have been for longer, Digby had the life and knew the love we wish for all shelter animals.

Digby’s Facebook page contains a wonderful timeline of the fantastic fourteen weeks we shared with him, and we invite you to admire him here one last time


On April 20th, 2013, United Hope for Animals rescued Digby, a two year old pit bull mix, from the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. Digby is a beneficiary of UHA’s Angel Medical Fund, which supports pets who need extra medical care in order to be adopted.

A diamond in the rough

Digby exited the shelter with generalized demodectic mange—a non-contagious condition that causes hair loss and flaky, scabby, irritated skin. In spite of being what his foster mom called “esthetically challenged,” Digby’s cheerful personality won him many friends at the shelter, where he quickly became a staff and volunteer favorite.

Always ready with a smile and a kiss, Digby became the ultimate shelter underdog: as a mangy pit bull, his chances of adoption directly out of the shelter were basically none
, in spite of best efforts by Animal Control Officer Isha Willits and her colleagues to encourage adopters to look at Digby. Luckily for Digby, UHA director Laura Knighten and several volunteers saw the potential in Digby, and decided to rescue this happy, hairless fellow.

Headed for a Full recovery

Digby went from the shelter straight to see a veterinarian. The prognosis for puppies with generalized demodectic mange is very good, but for adult dogs like Digby, the likelihood of a full recovery is lower.

All dogs have demodex mites on their skin, and in most dogs, these mites never cause problems. However, for some dogs, especially those with immune system dysregulation or those who have experienced stress or malnutrition, the mites can reproduce rapidly. When this happens, dogs develop symptoms ranging from hair loss in just a small patch to widespread hair loss and skin inflammation.

In severe cases, secondary bacterial and yeast infections also develop, and in rare cases, demodectic mange can even be a life-threatening. Digby’s mange was generalized, which means he had it all over his body; he also had a secondary bacterial infection. The only furry parts of Digby when he left the shelter were his ears and the end of his tail. To give Digby the best chance at getting better, UHA used a holistic approach to treat his condition.

Before and after: Digby, a dog with Demodex Mange, is treated and has fully recovered.

In just two months of treatment, Digby has gone from mangy to dashing!

Strengthening the immune system to help defend against mites

UHA turned to conventional pharmaceutical treatments that kill the bacteria and demodex mites colonizing his skin. Each week for eight weeks, Digby visited veterinarian Dr. Anil Kumar and his colleagues at the Southern California Animal Hospital for a full day of treatments. Under the direction of veterinarian Dr. Deborah Smith of the Hastings Animal Hospital, Digby has also been taking immune supplements and eating a grain-free diet to support a healthy immune system.

Two months after he left the shelter, Digby is now fully furry again, and our veterinarian has given him a clean bill of health. All Digby needs for a happy ending is his forever home!

Digby has been enjoying his recovery in a foster home where he enjoys romping with the resident dogs. He also is a gentleman with cats. He is housebroken and walks well on leash. He loves meeting new people and new dogs. Digby follows a “free love” philosophy, and cheerfully kisses everyone he meets, human and canine. His favorite activities include cuddling, eating, walking, and swimming.

Help Digby find a forever home

To help Digby find his forever home, please “like” his Facebook page. For more information about Digby, please contact UHA Adoption Coordinator Katja at Donations to the UHA Angel Fund, which help support rescue and care for Digby and other shelter animals who have medical needs, can be made on the UHA Donation Page.