Vanessa Welch's dog Baylor making big strides in weight loss boot camp

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ORLANDO, Fla. - WFTV has been highlighting the dangers of pet obesity in our series Baylor’s Boot Camp, and Channel 9's Vanessa Welch is helping pet owners understand how to take better care of their animals.

She's also putting her own overweight dog through a 12-week boot camp.

Baylor lost another pound for a total of 3 pounds in three weeks. Before Vanessa took Baylor to boot camp this week, she stopped by the SPCA of Central Florida and learned how expensive it is to treat overweight dogs.

At the shelter, Vanessa met Charlie Brown, a gorgeous chocolate lab that is also overweight.

Charlie Brown has hip problems, skin issues and a liver condition all caused by those extra pounds.  

People can’t afford the vet bills, so they drop their animals off at shelters, officials said.

Kerri Burns, the executive director of the SPCA of Central Florida, said it would cost thousands of dollars for Charlie Brown to go to the vet and that for his owners, "It was better for them to relinquish him.”

Burns said half of the pets dropped off at the shelter are just like Charlie Brown, overweight with health issues their owners couldn’t afford to treat.

“If it’s as simple as feeding your pet right at home to avoid health issues, then that’s what we need to do," said Burns.  

Now that he's eating right and getting exercise, Charlie Brown has lost 15 pounds, and his health has improved.

Vanessa has seen big improvements with Baylor, too. Since he started boot camp four weeks ago, he's lost nearly three pounds and has been working out at Barking Dog Fitness at Rocky’s Retreat twice a week.

Owner Sherri Cappabianca told Vanessa "Baylor is building muscle, too, so the weight loss will slow down the more he works out.”

Baylor is on the dog treadmill twice a day for about 20 minutes. He wears a weighted vest that adds 3.5 pounds, and he's really getting a workout.

Baylor will also start running in two weeks when his endurance improves. Vanessa said she can already tell he's not getting tired so easily.

“He wasn’t getting any exercise before. Just like humans, if you are not exercising, your cardiovascular system is not going to be in great health, so the more you run, the more you swim, it improves your entire body function, same with dogs," said Cappabianca.

Part of Baylor’s workout time is play time, and he can’t get enough of his girlfriend, a yellow Lab named Cali.

"They love each other. She adores him. He loves playing with her. It’s so cute," said Cappabianca.  

Cali has also lost a good bit of weight since she's been working out at Rocky’s.

Next week, we'll show how properly swimming your pets can help them recover from leg injuries and keep them away from expensive surgeries.