This is Good Luck Charlie. Charlie came to the ACCT Philly as a friendly stray in a trap. During his exam, shelter staff noticed that Charlie’s breathing was labored and it was suspected that he had a possible diaphragmatic hernia, a very serious condition in which all organs are lodged in the chest cavity. Things didn’t look great for Charlie, but we kept him in the surgical suite for furthering monitoring.


Charlie is an excellent surrogate father to the kittens in his foster home.

The same day, a similar looking cat named Nyla was brought to the shelter, also in a trap. Suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, a volunteer was asked to take Nyla into foster care until she was healthy enough for adoption. The two cats happened to be in cages next to each other and the volunteer took Charlie home by mistake!

When ACCT Philly veterinarian Dr. Hillary Herendeen noticed that Nyla was still at the shelter, she spoke with Charlie’s foster parent and quickly realized the cat mix-up. Dr. Hillary explained that Charlie could stay in foster care, but would need x-rays (not available at ACCT Philly) to confirm his diagnosis. If he did in fact have a diaphragmatic hernia, we could not repair it at the shelter. Sadly, Charlie’s health was declining at this point and he running out of time and options.

The foster decided to have the x-rays done to at least confirm that it was a hernia and not something ACCT Philly could treat. Dr. Francie L. Rubin, VMD, Founder of Rockledge Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Betty Marcucci, VMD saw Charlie the next day. Charlie was a perfect patient and showed nothing but affection for the entire staff at Rockledge Veterinary clinic. Sadly, the x-rays confirmed the worst: all of Charlie’s organs were lodged in his chest cavity due to a diaphragmatic hernia.


Charlie fights to breath in the oxygen tank.

At this point, the difficult decision needed to be made whether to try to find a specialty surgeon to perform a very expensive surgery to save Charlie or to humanely euthanize him. Dr. Rubin and Dr. Marcucci began making phone calls, taking time out of their already busy day to find help. When they contacted orthopedic specialist Dr. Guy DeNardo, he immediately agreed to do the surgery the next day; his day off.

Charlie’s surgery was a success, however his lungs were almost completely collapsed due to the pressure from the organs. His prognosis was grim as we waited almost 48 hours to see if his lungs would recover. Charlie remained in an oxygen tent struggling to breath. Amazingly, after almost two days of difficulty breathing, Charlie finally started breathing comfortably! His lungs recovered to 100% and he began eating on his own.

Charlie was discharged and his health continued to improve in foster care, gaining weight and playing with his foster siblings.  A few days after the New Year, Charlie got the biggest lucky break of all – a new home!  His extremely affectionate and loving personality won the heart of a little girl who met Charlie at an adoption event. The family adopted Charlie and took him home the very same day.

As for Nyla…the volunteer foster parent took her in as well and she recovered and has been adopted by a loving family 🙂


Charlie and his new best friend!

ACCT Philly would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Charlie’s foster parent, as well as Rockledge Veterinary Clinic for saving Good Luck Charlie. Drs. Marcucci, Rubin and DeNardo and the entire staff went above and beyond to help a little stray cat who had nothing, but gained everything. We are so thankful for your efforts and support!

Charlie was lucky and had his medical care donated, but other pets aren’t so lucky. To help sick and injured shelter pets who have no one else, please donate to the Stella Fund. Your gift will go directly towards diagnostic and medical care for needy pets at ACCT Philly right now. Learn more and give online here.

Want to help save lives by becoming a foster parent for pets in need like Charlie and Nyla? Sign-up online today!