by Susan Bird, CARE2
When someone found a ragged little black and white dog wandering around an Ohio parking lot on a cold New Year’s Eve night, no one knew her days were numbered. Now, thanks to strangers, her story is very different than it might have been.
They call her Millie. When the 10-month-old Havanese arrived at the Euclid Animal Shelter, she hid a secret that was going to kill her. Fortunately, a routine physical exam finally found it. Millie suffered from patent ductus arteriosus. It’s a genetic condition that causes an enlarged heart due to a malfunctioning blood vessel. Untreated, the defect typically causes death within the first year of life.
“We know that 64 percent of dogs with patent ductus arteriosus die before their first birthday,” veterinary cardiologist Dr. Kirstin Boddy, who diagnosed Millie, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “But the majority have a normal life expectancy after surgery. The heart usually shrinks to a more normal size within a few months of the surgery.”
The staff at the Euclid Animal Shelter knew it was imperative to get Millie this surgery as soon as possible. With a price tag of between $2,500 and $3,500, however, they just couldn’t pay for it.
“Millie is the sweetest dog,” shelter volunteer Ann Marie Bell told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “She’s playful and loves everyone. It saddens me that she is such a happy dog and has no idea just how sick she is. With Millie being so young and her condition so treatable, I felt she deserved a chance. I know she will make someone very happy.”
Determined to help Millie, Bell set up a fundraising web page, hoping to crowdfund the cost of surgery. She wasn’t prepared for what happened next. People who saw Millie’s story in the news had to do something to help. Money came from everywhere. Donations flowed to the web site. People stopped by the shelter to drop off cash and checks. Others mailed funds.
“It’s unbelievable and wonderful that people have helped us like this,” Fay Miller, president of the shelter’s board, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I got goose bumps when the shelter volunteers told me about children coming in to give $2 or $3, and an elderly lady who could barely walk dropped off four $100 bills.”
All told, the kindness of strangers raised a whopping $12,000 for Millie. That’s an impressive demonstration of love and concern for one little dog.
And the good news gets even better: Millie got her life-saving surgery on March 12, 2015. According to the shelter’s Facebook page, she’s recovering nicely. Her caregivers expect she’ll be able to live a long and healthy life.
What about all that money? Some will be used to repair Millie’s “cherry eye” problem. She’ll also be spayed before going up for adoption. In addition, shelter volunteer Ann Marie Bell, who paid $455 out of her own pocket for Millie’s initial cardiology tests, will be reimbursed. The rest will go to the shelter’s newly established “special needs fund,” so the next dog that requires special help like this will be able to get it.
“We have never before had a special medical fund,” Euclid Animal Control Officer Ann Mills told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “This is amazing and so appreciated. Every donor is going to get a thank you note, and their cards and letters are going into a scrapbook.”
Live long and prosper, Millie. Lots of good-hearted people wish you well as you recover from your surgery.
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