By Savannah Verdon, RedRover Development and Engagement Coordinator
One of five dogs in the family, Miss Cleo the Pitbull had a special place in Jennifer’s heart: this high-energy pup with a big personality had saved their home from going up in flames. When a pizza box that had been left on the stove caught fire, Cleo used her “talking voice” to alert Jennifer, who ran to the kitchen and put the fire out before it was too late.
Cleo meant the world to Jennifer – she described her special pup as a protector and a lover, and a little bit crazy. She kept the family on their toes, but they couldn’t imagine their lives without her. Cleo and fellow pitbull sister Autumn were attached at the hip, and they kept a watchful eye over their little Chihuahua siblings, Nalah, Breezy, and Gotti.
Jennifer was uncertain how it happened, but somehow in Cleo’s boundless exuberance, she injured her right hind leg and would not bear weight on it. No one had seen or heard Cleo hurt herself, they initially encouraged her to rest and stay calm, thinking it was a strained muscle that would heal on its own in time. But after a couple weeks with no improvement, Jennifer knew it was time for Cleo to see a veterinarian.
The veterinarian’s quote for the cost of Cleo’s treatment shocked Jennifer. Cleo had a serious leg injury and would need surgery to repair it. Getting the surgery was vital for Cleo’s well-being, not to mention reviving her endearingly rambunctious energy, but the thousands of dollars it would cost was daunting. Even with a second more affordable quote, Jennifer wasn’t sure how she would be able to afford the surgery her little protector needed.
There were other obstacles as well. Just a few months earlier, Nalah had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and Gotti with diabetes, both requiring monthly medications and regular check-ups. Jennifer had been unable to work due to medical issues, and she was fighting hard to receive social security disability benefits in the meantime. She and her husband lived off of his social security benefits, while also caring for her uncle with a disability. Most months, their bills exceeded their income by a wide margin, and the COVID-19 pandemic had made that worse. Adjusting to Nalah and Gotti’s increased needs had eaten through their savings, and now there wasn’t enough to pay for the full cost of Cleo’s surgery.
Both veterinarians had urged Jennifer that Cleo couldn’t wait much longer to get the surgery; she was sent home with anti-inflammatory and pain medication until the surgery could be scheduled. Jennifer had been able to put the last bit of their savings aside for Cleo, and had raised a few hundred dollars from friends and family as well. Fortunately, Jennifer had been approved for a grant from a local animal organization, which prompted her to research where else she might find support. Were there other organizations that might understand that Cleo was her family and provide just a little more help?
With a RedRover Relief Urgent Care grant, Jennifer could afford the full cost of Cleo’s surgery without waiting another painful day. When she got the call from RedRover, she said “This is excellent news, and Cleo and our family thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”
The veterinarian later told Jennifer the surgery went perfectly. While Cleo hasn’t been too pleased about being on crate rest and not being able to play with her sisters and brother, she has been healing well, and has begun lightly using her leg at times. She’ll need to be supervised as she returns to her more active and “crazy” self, but for now the family is happy to have their protector home.
We are so grateful for the compassion of our FurEver Friends who help RedRover bring hundreds of animals like Cleo from crisis to care!