Austin man’s journey to transform the life of Alva, a dog with wobbler syndrome

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In honor of Giving Tuesday this week, Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) shared a success story about one of their long-stay dogs.

Joe Rotunda, a pet advocate, formed a unique bond with Alva, a dog with wobbler syndrome, after discovering her on Instagram. Despite Alva’s challenging condition, which led to her return to APA! after an initial adoption, Rotunda was determined to make a difference in her life.

For two months, Rotunda visited Alva daily at APA!, gradually gaining her trust. Recognizing her special needs, he modified his home, adding ramps and safe spaces to accommodate her mobility issues. This effort was supported by APA!’s dog behavior training team, which provided essential training to help Alva adapt to a home environment.

Dr. Ellen Jefferson, President and CEO of APA!, acknowledged Rotunda’s efforts as reflective of the success of Austin’s No Kill policy, which saves healthy and/or treatable animals from euthanasia. Rotunda, through his persistence, has shown that with dedication, pets with special needs can find loving homes.

Rotunda’s relationship with Alva has evolved greatly, with her pictures now adorning Rotunda’s wall. He credits Alva for inspiring him and highlighting the importance of resilience.

“People tell me it must be hard work, but I keep telling folks that she has given me far more than I have given her,” he said. “Alva gave me a gift every time I saw her, and that was: inspiration. It is her spirit that is so infectious, she shines, and nothing gets in her way; she does not know she is different.”

  • Photo Joe holding Alva and smiling Photo Credit to Karen Hardwick
  • Photos Joe giving Alva treats Photo Credit to Karen Hardwick.JPG
  • framed photo of alva
  • alva

APA! continues to advocate for pets like Alva, offering training sessions for fosters and adopters. The organization invites the community to support, foster or adopt pets in need.

Those interested in supporting critical programs at APA! can sponsor a shelter pet, and those interested in fostering or adopting can go online to sign up.

APA! is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and people can visit the main location at 1156 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78703, or the Tarrytown Adoption Center (Small Dogs and Cattery) at 3118 Windsor Rd, Austin, TX 78703.

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