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Santa Fe Animal Shelter's favorite dog rescue Raphael succumbs to cancer

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On Monday, the sad announcement of Raphael's death was posted on the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society's Facebook. The dog's tragic plight was followed by over 150,000 people, after photos of his emaciated body went viral throughout social media in October 2013.

Raphael gained back his weight, and had been living the charmed life with his foster parent, but in January, when a swelling in his shoulder appeared, the dog was eventually diagnosed with lymphoma. When the shelter's medical director, Dr. Jennifer Steketee, determined that Raphael was suffering, the decision to humanely euthanize him was made:

“It was difficult to lose such a good friend,” said Mary Martin, the shelter’s executive director, “but it was time to say good-bye. The last months of his life have been filled with love, thanks to his foster mother, Claire, and all those who followed his story on Facebook and in the media. We miss him terribly.”

The dog had been found abandoned in Projoaque, N.M. and rescued by Good Samaritan, Ben Gomez, when he was walking his own dog. That evening, Gomez took the starved strange dog home and offered him some food and a soft blanket to rest on before taking him to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter the next day.

It was love at first sight for everyone at the shelter, and the dog, a large-boned, gentle mixed breed who only weighed 48 pounds (half of what he should have weighed) was named Raphael. (after an archangel which means God heals)

A reward for information on the dog's owner resulted in Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office charging Michael Riggs and Delores Lupin with animal cruelty. The owners told authorities the dog didn't want to eat.

Raphael tipped the scale at 88 pounds before he died.

The shelter hopes Raphael's plight shows pet owners there are other options besides abandoning one's dog if they cannot afford veterinary care. The Santa Fe Animal Shelter offers affordable care and uses a sliding scale of fees based on the pet owner's ability to pay.

For more information about pet care, please call the shelter's Clare Eddy Thaw Animal Hospital at 505-983-2755.

Rest in peace Raphael. You certainly were loved by everyone.

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