TANNER, Ala. (WHNT) — A young dog has lost the ability to walk, but the local shelter that took him under their wing says he has a chance to walk, run and play – with the community’s help.
Rugar, a Doberman, is “just a puppy,” says the Director of Peace, Love and Animals, Cathy Oakley. He was brought to the shelter as an owner surrender, Oakley told News 19. His family suspected there was an issue that would require expensive medical care – something they knew they couldn’t afford.
Oakley says Rugar was only 6 months old when his owner brought him in, but still had a hard time just walking. She says if he got too excited, Rugar would lose his balance and his back legs would collapse underneath him.
“We immediately took him to our vet, Dr. Jarod Grantland, at Athens Animal Hospital,” Okayley told News 19. “Doing x-rays and an overall exam did not reveal the answers we had hoped for. We were looking for a fractured pelvis or pinched nerve. But that wasn’t the case. At his suggestion, we made an appointment with the Neurologist at Huntsville Veterinary Specialist and Emergency (HVSE) for an MRI.”
The MRI test alone costs $3,000. The nonprofit, no-kill shelter was able to raise enough money to afford the test, and on June 23, Rugar went in for his MRI.
One of the volunteers of the shelter, Misti Cooper, who says she carried Rugar to the MRI appointment, says her heart has been breaking watching him suffer.
“It is so hard to watch a vibrant puppy decline every day. He struggles to get around and often, is unable to walk,” Cooper said. “But the puppy in his head still wants to go so he drags himself around, causing sores and open wounds on his feet and knees. Just hurts my heart to see him in this shape.”
“[It’s] a long day of testing, and Rugar stole the hearts of everyone at HVSE,” said Oakley.
Test results were clear, and showed a tumor growing on Rugar’s spinal cord. “As it grows, he has less and less use of his legs,” explained Oakley. “It is a correctable surgery, although a costly surgery.”
Doctors estimated the cost to remove the tumor to be between $5,500 to $8,300.
For those who ask why a nonprofit shelter would attempt such a major expense for one dog, Oakley’s answer was simple: “He has his whole life to live. Why condemn him to a death sentence when we have an issue that can be fixed,” Oakley stated.
The director says Rugar’s life is a blessing, and that a silly, happy and playful puppy like him has lots of life and love left to give.
Oakley says at this point, Rugar is completely unable to walk or play, but that his “puppy-love” attitude remains the same. Even though some have suggested they opt to not do the surgery and just put him in a wheelchair, she says that’s not an option.
“The tumor will eventually grow until he loses all feeling in his lower body,” explained Oakley, “causing him to not be able to use his bladder or bowels.”
Founded in 2009, the mission of Peace, Love and Animals has been to support the homeless animals of our county, relayed Oakley. “We are here to heal the wounded, feed the hungry, and love those that feel no hope.”
Oakley is hopeful that Rugar’s journey will end with him chasing his favorite tennis ball across the yard and being adopted into his forever home.
To learn more about Rugar’s story or to donate to the cause, you can visit the shelter’s Facebook page here, or call (256) 233-4343.