We need to help each other

My Bella on the last day of her life.

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend. She has a dog she rescued from a shelter in March 2014. Elsa is a pit bull, and at the time my friend adopted her, she had missing and broken teeth. Why she was in this shape was unknown, although the vet at the shelter suggested it might have been to make her a more cooperative breeder. Regardless, Elsa needed a loving home. She had been given only one day to live before being euthanized when a friend told Keri about her, and Keri decided to rescue Elsa. Keri does not have a lot in the way of resources herself. She is on SSI and goes without a lot of things. But she was willing to love Elsa and share what she does have. She has provided for Elsa, feeding her, getting her shots and medical care, and being a good, loving mom to this dog.

Recently, however, it was discovered that Elsa has a mammary tumor. The surgery for this was quoted at $2,000, which Keri didn’t have. So Keri’s daughter started a GoFundMe for Elsa, to try to raise the money needed. This cause has really struck home with me, because I had a chocolate lab who died in 2013 from a mammary tumor. Bella’s had spread so quickly, it was something like a month between when we first discovered a bump to when she had to be put to sleep, because the cancer had spread to her lungs and she was no longer able to breathe.

Keri has done her due diligence with the mammary tumor. She not only got a quote from her own vet, but she traveled to Oakland to the East Bay SPCA because she had been told they offered financial assistance for veterinary care. They did quote a lower price than the vet, for more services, and did give Keri a discount because of her income. But the SPCA had asked for ex-rays from Elsa’s vet to show that the tumor had not spread, and they also did an exam, for which Elsa’s mom had to pay more money. Also they don’t take Care Credit, which had promised Keri $500 credit towards the surgery. So between the extra costs and the loss of a resource, Keri was left once again without enough funds.

What has amazed me is how difficult it has been to raise this money through GoFundMe. Just myself, I have posted it on my Facebook a good half dozen times. Over 13 days, a total of only $650 has been raised. “It’s my fault,” Elsa’s mom said to me a few days ago. “I should never have got a dog when I am on SSI.”

How heartbreaking is that? Had Keri not been willing to adopt Elsa, she would have died. Elsa needed Keri, and perhaps Keri needed Elsa also. Keri has been willing to give from what she has to meet all of Elsa’s needs until now. She has not been neglected. As Keri said, she has been lucky, because none of her dogs have had problems like this, and most don’t, most of the time.

When something unexpected like this comes up, we ought to be able to help one another. Those of us who don’t have a lot should not be afraid to take responsibility for a pet, because we should all have each other’s backs.

In fact, we should have each other’s backs whatever the need is. If all us poor people got together and looked out for one another, life would be so much better. Best of all, we would not have to be afraid, because we would know that we were never alone, that there was always someone there who would want to help us.

This isn’t the first time I have tried to help people raise funds in times of need, so I guess I am not really shocked at how difficult it is to do this. For Elsa, in 13 days, only $650 has been raised. With the expenses of the new exams, and the discounted fees charged by the SPCA due to Keri’s income, Elsa needs a total of $1400 raised for the surgery and biopsy, or an additional $750.

This is not that much. I have 1,363 friends on Facebook, many of whom are ardent animal lovers, so this should have been a slam dunk. But it hasn’t been. So I thought perhaps if I wrote it out, if people could understand Elsa’s story, and Keri’s, they might feel more comfortable about helping with this cause. The thing is, it doesn’t take long for this kind of cancer to spread. On Bella’s last day, she was unable to get comfortable, because she was having so much trouble breathing. We propped pillows and blankets so she could lean on them instead of trying to lie down. We fanned the air in front of her face so she could feel that there was air there, because that seemed to comfort her. In the evening, the whole family gathered to say goodbye, and a friend came to our house and put her to sleep.

It was too late to save Bella, but I want to help save Elsa. I don’t want her to die, and I don’t want Keri to be forced to grieve the loss of a dog simply because she didn’t have the money to pay for treatment. So I am asking you, please, please help.

Please. Go to Elsa’s GoFundMe Page and give a little, or give a lot if you can. Please help save this dog’s life. Please help one of your fellow human beings. If you have ever loved a dog, you know how she feels.

And to everyone who has helped, or who will help, thank you.

UPDATE: Within hours of this posting, all the funds necessary for Elsa’s surgery have been donated. I thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I hope to be able to post a follow-up with photos of a happy and healthy Elsa. 

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