Winifred has a rare condition: How you can help her and other animals like her

Winifred could have died in the shelter she came from without ever knowing the love of a family.

This adorable Schnauzer/Wheaten Terrier mix came to Ruff Start from a Texas shelter in October 2021. Before Winifred arrived, a family fell in love with her after seeing her pictures and reading her bio on our website. This landed her a foster-to-adopt (FTA) home before she arrived in Minnesota.

What should have been a wonderful new beginning for Winifred turned worrisome – she started to display some distressing symptoms including difficulty moving around and it was obvious to her foster-to-adopt family that she was in a great deal of pain. These symptoms didn’t make sense for such a young pup so we sent Winifred to get some testing done.

After several exams, we still didn’t have an answer for why her joints were so inflamed so she went to the University of Minnesota vetting center for additional specialized tests. After a number of blood draws and other diagnostic procedures, x-rays confirmed that Winifred had a fungal infection called Valley Fever, a non-contagious disease. If caught late this infection can be fatal, but if caught early enough recovery can be achieved through aggressive therapy.

An intake picture of Winifred. She's in a kennel in a shelter.

We’re happy to report that 2-year-old Winifred is responding positively to the antifungal drug, fluconazole. At this point, we’re cautiously optimistic about Winifred living a relatively normal life but know that flare-ups are likely and can lead to poor quality of life. She’ll likely need to be on this daily medication for the rest of her life.

We have hundreds of animals that join Ruff Start Rescue every month, some requiring specialized testing, treatments, medicines, and procedures, like Winifred. If you have the means, please consider making a monthly donation to Ruff Start Rescue’s Animal Care Fund to help offset the costs of procedures and medications. Monthly donations help sustain the rescue and give us more stability and flexibility to help even more animals.