Published: Aug 22, 2012 5:48 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 22, 2012 5:48 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Hope, a 4-year-old Labrador mix, was a stray with a 17-pound cancerous tumor under her front leg.

"It's hard to look at the pictures," said Ria Brown with Lee County Domestic Animal Services, "It was unbelievable, the size of her tumor, she had a hard time moving around and she could not use the leg at all."

"It was terrible, to see that.  How anyone could allow that to happen to an animal like that," said shelter employee, Michelle Penney.

Penney says people just don't realize how many surgeries they provide to animals with special medical needs.

"They don't even want to bring in stray animals here because they think that's the only thing we're going to do is right away put them down and that's just not the case," she said.

The Animal Care Trust Fund was created to give strays like Hope a second chance.

"A lot of people making small donations make it possible for these animals to get the care they need," said Brown.

But what happens after surgery?

"They're a little bit harder to place, because they're certain homes they're not going to work out well in," Brown said.

"If you're thinking of not getting a 3-legged dog, that would be a mistake, because they do everything a 4-legged dog can do and maybe more actually!" said Penney.

Both women agree, if you have room in your home and your heart you wouldn't be disappointed.

"They are an inspiration, she is a joy to have around the house.  She's a great dog," said Penney.

Any animal with pre-existing medical conditions carry the risk of needing additional care and could have a shortened life-expectancy. 

If you are interested in any of the animals featured in this story, stop by the Lee County Domestic Animal Services and fill out an adoption application.