The precarious medical condition of Sheba has improved - along with the finances of a Chicago animal rescue group - thanks to a lot of dog lovers who were captivated by her story.
The pit bull mix was surrendered last weekend to Felines & Canines, a shelter in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, with what appeared to be a case of kennel cough. Instead, it turned out be parvo, a potentially fatal virus that attacks a dog's intestines.
The shelter launched an online campaign to help defray Sheba's veterinary expenses, which included an IV, blood transfusion and an around-the-clock technician. Then they learned that a big chunk of the donations on their GoFundMe.org site - $3,000 - were bogus.
After a Tribune story and word of mouth about what happened, donors from all over the country - including Hawaii - dug deep into their pockets, contributing more than $15,000. It was enough not only to help Sheba, but to boost the budget for medical care of some of the other more than 150 cats and dogs cared for by the shelter on any given day.
"People called us directly to give us their credit card numbers, so we would know they weren't fake," said shelter executive director Abby Smith. "We were totally overwhelmed."
Sheba's outlook has also improved.
"Sheba is stable, but still very sick," said Smith. "Unfortunately, she came down with pneumonia, but she is accepting and keeping syringe feedings down, which is a good sign. Next, we're going to try a little bit of chicken."