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Cleft Palate Chihuahua inspires a Foundation
for Special Needs Pets

Mia Kiss
© THE MIA FOUNDATION
Mia recieves a kiss from her mom Juliet.
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By Rebecca Kaplan
Published June 18, 2012
In recent months, the Internet has been
struck with a new sensation – the story of
a cleft palate Chihuahua named Mia who
passed away in April. With more than
8,000 fans on Facebook and even more
following her story on her web site, Mia’s
life as a special needs dog is inspiring
people everywhere not to overlook animals who need a little extra love.

Mia was born on June 26, 2010 by cesarean
section at Rochester Animal Emergency
along with two healthy male puppies. She
weighed three ounces at birth and the vet-
Sue LaMartina Rogers & Mia
© THE MIA FOUNDATION
Sue LaMartina Rogers & Mia with Husband Gary Rogers.
erinarian told Mia’s owner, Sue LaMartina Rogers, that she was born with a cleft palate.

“I got the phone call from the animal hospital saying that Mia had a cleft palate and they could just euthanize her for me right there,” said Rogers. “I wasn't comfortable with that because I needed time to research it before taking her life. The vet kept trying to convince me to do it and I finally had to get somewhat rude with her and told her not to euthanize my dog.”

According to the American College of Veterinarian Surgeons, a cleft palate occurs when the tissues separating the mouth and the nose do not grow together properly. The birth defect can occur in the lip or along the roof of the mouth. Within the mouth, it can extend along the hard palate or the soft palate, which is used in swallowing, or both.

“The most common [cause of cleft palate] is congenital - they are just born with it,” said Dr. Talia Goldberg of the Upper East Veterinary Center. “Other less common reasons are corticosteroids, excessive Vitamin A and D in the mother, genetic defect, hereditary, teratogenic chemicals, and a virus.”

Due to the cleft palate, Mia could not eat like a regularly puppy.

“They [the vet clinic] taught me how to tube-feed her,” Rogers said. “This was to be done every two hours around the clock. One wrong move and she would die in my hands.”
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