An adopted Tarentum dog born with his intestines wrapped around multiple organs is on the road to recovery thanks in part to the efforts of students at Highlands Elementary.

Kendall, an 8-month-old terrier mix housed at Tarentum-based Paws Across Pittsburgh, underwent three surgeries to fix a host of birth defects, including a hole in her diaphragm, a deformed front leg, and a liver and gallbladder badly located.

“To hear about him, he sounds like a sick, hopeless puppy, but he’s really full of energy,” said Diane Raible, co-vice president of animal rescue.

“When the doctor heard his catalog of illnesses, he wasn’t sure he could do much. But, after meeting him, he wanted to give him a chance.

Highlands Elementary student fundraisers have helped cover more than $2,000, or 20 percent, of Kendall’s overall medical expenses.

“They helped tremendously,” Raible said. “Their efforts were very important in helping to provide him with the care he needed.”

Highland teacher Victoria Nania pitched the idea to an after-school group called Girls on the Run. Although based on physical fitness, the program also aims to teach students decision-making and teamwork.

“The girls wanted to do a service project, and they thought Kendall was as adorable as can be,” Nania said.

“We thought about ways each class could help and created a collection of pieces called ‘Cans for Kendall’.

“It didn’t matter that someone put in 2 cents. It all helped.”

Fiona Zewe, who will be in fifth grade in the fall, said it was exciting to rally the whole school for a good cause.

“I really enjoyed seeing everyone trying to help Kendall,” she said.

For a week before school ended, each class in the building received a container in which to place their pieces.

“Not only were the coins tossed into buckets, but the 25 students in the Girls on the Run program also started asking friends and family members,” said retired teacher Jody Shumaker. “Two girls even had a bake sale outside their house and, boy, was it ever a success.”

Principal Stan Whiteman praised the students’ efforts and cited the Girls on the Run program as a momentum for good.

“It’s so much more than promoting physical fitness,” Whiteman said.

“It provides a platform for coaches and leaders in our building to cultivate positive relationships with students outside of school. Valuable time spent with students will not only build a stronger relationship, but also enhance students’ self-esteem and strengthen their leadership abilities. »

Paws Across Pittsburgh, which operates out of a home along East Sixth Avenue, is an all-volunteer group that rescued more than 1,000 pets last year.

The group compiled a list of 230 foster parents to care for homeless, abused or unwanted dogs and cats.

Raible said it was great that students in the Highlands were taking up the cause.

“It’s one of those things where there’s a lot of money, but we committed to it and we had to give it a chance,” she said.

Kendall continues her recovery and has regained the energy of a puppy in recent weeks.

“He’s now cleared out of his crate and has been running around and playing with others,” Raible said. “He will soon be ready for his forever home.”

Tawnya Panizzi is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, [email protected] or via Twitter .