By Savannah Verdon, RedRover Development and Engagement Coordinator

Ginna could always see the potential in something that just needed a little TLC. She had successfully channeled her passion for vintage goods and antiques into creating her own shop, and she was always on the hunt to breathe new life into old things.

Like so many other small-business owners, Ginna was deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. She had to close her shop, and her income was reduced to what she received from unemployment benefits. Amidst so much hardship, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and Ginna began caring for her as she underwent chemotherapy. Her funds were nearly exhausted – and so was she. 

Over the past year, Ginna had taken an interest in her neighbor’s beautiful golden retriever mix, Leo. She came to realize that, though he seemed big and healthy, this poor dog was being severely neglected and lived a miserable existence. She couldn’t bear to let him suffer, and she knew he could thrive if given the second chance he deserved.

It took her months to convince his owners to let him have a new life elsewhere, but finally, in February of this year, Ginna welcomed Leo into her home. For all the neglect that he had suffered, Leo had the sweetest, most loving temperament and gave the biggest smiles she had ever seen on a dog. In her heart, she knew that Leo could bring happiness to anyone he met, and she hoped to train him as a therapy dog for hospitals and nursing homes.

As she taught Leo important commands for being a therapy dog, Ginna soon grasped the full extent of the neglect he had endured. Leo had chronic and severe ear infections, and after so many years without treatment, he was now partially deaf and would barely move his head. The infections caused him so much pain and tempered the big, bright smile he usually had on his face.

Her veterinarian recommended that Leo undergo a total ear canal ablation (TECA) surgery. With the ear canal surgically removed, Leo might not get his hearing back, but he would no longer suffer ear infections and his quality of life would improve dramatically. Ginna was elated to learn about this special surgery – until she learned that he would need to see a specialist to perform it. When she realized what this meant financially, her heart sank.

“He means the world to me already and I just want him to not be in pain and to be happy in his remaining years.”

Having fought so hard for so long to save Leo from miserable conditions, Ginna wasn’t going to let the expensive TECA surgery stop her from giving him the good life he deserved. She could put a little bit of her own money toward the surgery, and she was approved for a little bit more in CareCredit, but there was still a small gap she needed help with before she could give Leo this life-changing treatment.

With the continued support of our FurEver Friends, we were able to help Ginna when she applied for a RedRover Relief Urgent Care grant. Two weeks after his TECA surgery, which repaired one of the worst cases the specialist had ever seen, Leo had his stitches and drain tube removed. Ginna was ecstatic to discover he hadn’t lost his hearing completely!

For the first time since she brought him home, Ginna heard Leo bark, and his smiles have grown bigger than ever. Now that he’s healed, she is continuing to train him to become a therapy dog, and he has joined her in sniffing out the best antiques. She recently shared this update with us: 

“We just got back from Antique Week where I was a vendor and had a pop-up shop for 10 days.  Leo got to run free and was the happiest I’ve ever seen a dog, much less a human! He made friends with everyone. Thanks to your generous donation, every time I whistled, Leo came running full speed! Thank you so much for helping us – you truly made a difference and we are forever grateful.  Leo says life is no longer so ruff!”

We are eternally grateful for the Happy Tails your monthly support makes possible for families like Ginna and Leo. Thank you for your commitment to the belief that pets are family and your dedication to our mission of bringing animals from crisis to care!