DETROIT (WWJ) In the course of rescuing what many believe are mistreated dogs at the Detroit Animal Control shelter, the Detroit Dog Rescue stumbled onto something rarely seen: a hermaphrodite dog.
Cody, a smoky gray pit bull mix with soulful eyes, has both male and female genitalia.
“You can actually see the vulva and the formation of what are really small testicles,” said Kristina Rinaldi, executive director of the DDR.
Cody will be both spayed and neutered by a reproductive specialist at Michigan State University.
“It is very, very rare,” Rinaldi said. “I haven’t seen it in my rescue career.”
Rinaldi was unaware of any statistics on the occurrence of hermaphrodite dogs. Treatment is usually neutering, to avoid complications like prostate cancer.
The last time a hermaphrodite dog came to attention was 2013 when a Florida woman paid $1,000 for a cockapoo she later discovered was both male and female. She had to pay for the puppy’s sex reassignment surgery, and urged other pet owners to check carefully before paying for a dog.
In 2010, a hermaphrodite dog discovered in Manchester, England, was neutered in the hope it would make him or her more able to get a forever home. Many possible adopters were reportedly uncomfortable with a hermaphrodite dog adoption.
In this case, Cody is ailing from distemper and malnutrition.
“Very sweet, very loving, just extremely underweight and showing signs of distemper,” Rinaldi said about Cody.
It’s unknown where Detroit Animal Control collected Cody or if anyone was previously aware of his or her condition. Detroit Dog Rescue is one of the independent foster and shelter groups that fought successfully for the right to remove dogs from Detroit’s Animal Control shelter, where conditions were reportedly deplorable. The former director was fired and the city’s Health Department has taken over operations.
DDR wants to get Cody healthy, have the neutering procedures, and find her or him a forever home.
They’re also toying with the idea of turning Cody into a kind of therapy dog for transgender young people.
“We also may want to use Cody to talk to teens who maybe are going through the same things, we want to reach out to Affirmations in Ferndale and maybe we can use Cody as an example that there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s not strange, it happens to the best animals and the best people … Maybe Cody can help some other people deal with some feelings they may be dealing with,” Rinaldi said.