Saving a unique German shepherd pup named ‘Oswald’

Less than two weeks ago, an adorable German shepherd pup, with a unique nose, was rescued from the streets in San Diego, California. A good Samaritan had notified the police that the pup, who was first spotted in the 4700 block of Hill Top Drive, appeared to be injured.

In short order, an animal control officer with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services arrived to the area and began to search for the pup – fortunately, he was found.

Dr. Cassie Hamilton examined the pup, dubbed “Wilbur” by shelter staff, and explained the cause of his unusual looking nose:

This little German shepherd puppy came to the Department of Animal Services with a genetic defect of his nose. During development, the nasal planum did not fuse completely giving this puppy a separation between each nostril. The good news is that this defect did not involve the hard palate as it can in more severe cases. He did however have a significant overbite.

Thanks to the shelter’s veterinary staff, Wilbur had some teeth extracted in an effort to improve his jaw function (his mouth previously would not completely close), and a fractured canine tooth was removed – he was also altered.

Little Wilbur had other neglect related issues, so the shelter reached out to one of their rescue partners for help. The German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County agreed to take the pup under its wing.

Maria Dales, director the rescue group, provided Shelter Me with a bit of insight to the pup, who is now known as “Oswald.”

He is energetic and happy—playing nicely with other dogs in his foster home, but he is thin and his skin is very dry and flaky. (Neglect–was covered with fleas and ticks when the AC picked him up.) Being treated for parasites to help him put on some weight, and antibiotics for skin. His favorite thing to do is to cuddle—he is very affectionate and grateful for tummy rubs!


Dales was quick to commend the San Diego Department of Animal Services for their ongoing good work – for Oswald, and other dogs like him. She told Shelter Me, “San Diego shelter teams are league leading….best practices, great outreach, friendly and professional,” adding, “San Diego system is light years ahead of the rest of So CA.”

Dawn Danielson, RVT, Director of the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, had her own words of admiration for rescue groups that step up to help puppies like Oswald. Danielson told Shelter Me, “Let me start off by saying I don’t know how we would have such an awesome adoption program and “live release rate” if it wasn’t for the amazing relationship we have with our rescue partners. We have approximately 230 rescue partners signed up with us and the application is on our web site. In fact our partners take approximately 20% of our available animals into their adoption programs. We take in over 24,000 animals a year and in addition to finding more animals homes this partnership opens up kennel space and helps us alleviate overcrowding at our 3 shelters.”

She added, “Once a year we have a celebration where we honor our rescue partners for the awesome work they do helping us reach a common goal where every  animal has a family to call its own!  We like to tell people if you are looking to add a new family member please visit a local shelter or go to our web site and see our list of the amazing rescue groups we partner with.  We are sure you will find your new best friend at one of these locations!”

Rescue/shelter partnerships are critical to helping puppies like Oswald get the help that they need to overcome injuries or a neglectful background. These partnerships are crucial for helping dogs recuperate and ultimately find their way into a new home.

Oswald isn’t quite ready for his own forever home, but when he is, the rescue group is hopeful that someone will see beyond his unique nose, and see the beautiful soul inside.

Find the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County here. Find the County of San Diego Animal Services website here. San Diego Animal Services Facebook page here.

Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.


  1. Linda B. says:

    Ms. Eims,

    Thank you for covering this story and letting us know about sweet, adorable Wilbur. I didn’t know the San Diego shelter worked so closely with all these amazing rescue groups. Hats off to the rescues like GSROC that take in and care for special needs dogs.

    Please keep us informed about Wilbur’s progress and other heart-warming stories about the untiring efforts of animal rescues.

  2. Amber W says:

    Penny – Thank you for writing about this sweet pup. GSROC is an amazing group and they are so fortunate to have your support.

  3. Claire V says:

    Thank you San Diego Animal Services and German Shepherd Rescue Orange County for saving this unique and precious pup, and thank you Penny Eims for sharing his story! All of you are heroes!

  4. Steph says:

    I think Eliza should be allowed to home him. He’s adorable! Fingers crossed Eliza xx

  5. Elisa lino says:

    I will be more than happy to take him, if he doesn’t get adopted closer to Cali. In nj, with 3 acres horse farm, and 2 rescue pups already. He’s beautiful. I absolutely love love love his nose. My children would love another addition to our home.

  6. Heather Saunders says:

    He needs to be tested for pituitary dwarfism.

  7. Laura Asbill says:

    Thank God for San Diego animal services and GSROC. And thank you, Penny for covering the story of this sweet pup!

  8. Jo says:

    Penny a million thanks for saving Wilbur! I am a volunteer with his current rescue. He is loved and cared for and has a wonderful Foster dad, brother and sister!

  9. chris f says:

    What a lucky boy!! Great job!!!

  10. Shari Brayall says:

    Kudos to San Diego and German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County! Oswald is actually pretty cute too!

  11. Kellue says:

    If I could take every abandoned animal I would love animals you are all Heros in my book God bless you all for the hard work and dedication ?Xx

  12. Angie F. says:

    Thank you everyone for your hard work & dedication to finding forever homes for these lost or abandoned animals. You are HEROES.

  13. Amanda M says:

    Great story!

  14. Jeff Wyatt says:

    You guys are heroes keep up the good work

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