Hercules is living up to his name.
When he was found on July 5 on West Cheltenham Ave. in north Philadelphia, the pit bull puppy was more flesh than fur, suffering from burns covering more than 75 percent of his body.
Today he is making great strides, fighting hard against the odds.
For two weeks the staff at Crown Veterinary Specialists in Lebanon, NJ have toiled 24/7 to bring the nearly six-month old youngster back to life.
Dr. Wendy Ross says Hercules is now able to eat and stand on his own and be touched without crying in pain. He's also been taken off drip antibiotics and is receiving medication orally.
Best of all, she said, he's starting to show his personality. "He's perking up, coming out of his cage and climbing into people's laps," she said.
Hercules underwent a grafting procedure today that Ross said will allow him full movement in his hind end. The medical device firm, Integra, donated material made from cow tendons and used on human burn victims, to repair deep wounds on his right hind leg. Because Hercules suffered such extensive burns, there was no available skin on his body to use and allowing the wounds to heal naturally would have meant restricted movement in his leg.
Ross reported this afternoon: "So far, so good."
She said while Hercules is largely out of the woods as far as life-threatening infections are concerned, that he will be monitored to ensure his body accepts the graft material.
Hercules was found a week after another pit bull puppy, Chloe, was set aflame and abandoned about a mile away, on West Grey Ave. in Germantown. Chloe succumbed to her wounds despite the best efforts of veterinarians at Crown.
Meanwhile, humane law enforcement officers are continuing to pursue leads in both cases. Reward funds stand at $5,000 for Chloe and $1,500 for Hercules. Volunteers are canvassing the neighborhoods. alerting residents to the rewards, said Wendy Marano, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania SPCA.
Last week several hundred people turned out for a rally, Justice for Chloe and Hercules, at the PSPCA last week. District Attorney Seth Williams was among the speakers.
Donations are needed to help pay for Hercules' costly and continuing round-the-clock care over the next several weeks before he is able to be placed in a new home.
The PSPCA has relinquished ownership of Hercules to the Animal Alliance of NJ, a rescue that specializes in treating and finding homes for the most severely injured and abused animals - many of them saved from the streets of Philadelphia.