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Posted: 24th January 2024

Vets remove ‘mermaid’s tail’ from six-legged dog
Ariel underwent a CT scan at Langford Vets.
The cocker spaniel underwent surgery after being born with multiple birth defects.

A rescue dog with six legs has undergone specialist surgery to remove her two additional limbs.

Ariel, a five-month-old cocker spaniel, was found in September 2023 abandoned in a B&M car park in Pembrokeshire.

After bring taken to Greenacres Rescue, a local animal rescue centre, she was assessed by the veterinary team at a nearby practice. They found that she also had an additional vulva and gave her the name Ariel as her two extra limbs were fused together in a way that resembled a mermaid’s tail.

In November, Ariel was referred to Langford Vets Small Animal Hospital, part of the University of Bristol.

A CT scan and retrograde fluroscopy revealed that she had two right hemipelvises, creating an additional large acetabulum. Her right hindleg was found to be relatively normal, although missing several muscles. Each limb had a separate arterial supply and venous drainage.

It was also found that Ariel had a blind right uterine horn, was missing her right kidney, and her second vulva was not connected to any internal reproductive organs. Her condition was considered analogous to Herlyn-Werner-Wunderlich syndrome in humans.

In early January, she underwent surgery to remove her ovaries. After she had recovered, she was then operated on by specialist surgeon Ed Friend and resident Aaron Lutchman to remove her additional limbs, with care taken not to damage the blood vessels or nerves of the other hindleg on her right side.

The surgery was a success and Ariel is now recovering at her foster home. Before she is ready to be adopted, she will undergo a period of physiotherapy to build up the muscles on her remaining right hindlimb.

Vicki Black, hospital director at Langford Vets, said: “Ariel was a complicated little dog whose care required close collaboration across several of our specialist led teams including Orthopaedics, Soft Tissue Surgery, Anaesthesia and Radiology.

“We are delighted such a lovely dog has recovered from her surgery well.”

Image © Langford Vets

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