LUNENBURG: It's a long, long story, but somebody in Fitchburg bought this puppy online, sight unseen, you know, never checked on anything,” Lunenburg Animal Control Officer Kathy Comeau told me, as she began to relate her story of how she’s helping a very unfortunate Bulldog get the serious medical attention that he needs. “When we got him, the first thing that we did was give him a new name, so that there would be nothing remaining of the terrible circumstances that he had already endured.” At about 13 weeks old, ‘Nugget’ got her new name when she was adopted and rescued by Kathy and her neighbor Kathy Petrullo. “She couldn’t control her pee and poo, and at her size of around four pounds at that time, her poop was the size of a little nugget, so that’s what we named her.”
Nugget is now weighing in at 20 pounds.
Kathy always makes me laugh. She’s responsible for all sorts of rescues over the years. Many of the animals she’s rescued and adopted still live with her and her family. Visiting her home and animal menagerie is always a very special treat. When I first met and interviewed Kathy for The Ledger’s “Officer of the Week” series highlighting the Lunenburg Police, my wife and I met “Speedy” the Tortoise, and “Button’s” the cat. Every animal lucky enough to be adopted into Cathy’s family has their own story. Some have endured horrific treatment, while others, like Speedy, the 100 pound tortoise, simply ended up needing adoption because their owners could no longer care for them, or they were abandoned.
“So he came and he was injured. We can't prove, you know, anything, we can't get any information from Michigan, the place where the puppy came from. That person wouldn't give me any information. So she [the woman who had bought the dog online] destroyed the paperwork cuz she was pissed off.”
At just a few weeks old, a Bulldog puppy born in Michigan was purchased online for $200 (plus gas) and delivered to Fitchburg, sight unseen. “So he was given to the girl that bought him,” Kathy continues. “She couldn't handle it because he couldn't walk and he couldn't hold his bowels or his urine, and she ended up giving it to someone else.” After being handed off a couple of times to people who couldn’t handle him, Kathy’s friend and neighbor Kathy Perullo took the poor puppy.
“They brought the dog to Kathy P and he was 13 weeks at the time. Just a baby. So she took the puppy whose name was Axel. We changed that right away, trying to get rid of his past. He's nothing but adorable, but he's got mega problems. So I took shared care. I’ve got him on the weekends. She called me cuz she couldn't handle it, monetarily.”
Kathy Perullu called Kathy Comeau, “told me the facts of the whole thing. So I said, ‘bring 'em to me.’ So she brought 'em to me. I brought 'em to my vet. She did x-rays and tried to volunteer her services, but she couldn't tell in the x-ray what was going on just cuz you really need an MRI.” Kathy began looking around. “The cheapest I could get was five grand. So I took him to Westford. I paid for it and we got an MRI and they said that he had a hole in his spine for L-9. It looked like an injury. So he had been kicked or hit or something, squished… something, not an accident, but impossible to prove.”
The MRI Vet told Kathy that Nugget would need surgery. “You need to see a surgeon because the hole has to be closed. Arrangements were made with Tufts Veterinary School in Grafton for surgery and a graft. By press time, Wednesday July 20th, Nugget is scheduled to go in for surgery and will need to remain in hospital for four or five days.
“We had to wait for the surgeon. This is one of the best surgeons. That was gonna be $12,000. So I said, okay. So I just put it on my Care Credit,” paying it off, because there is no interest. “My husband's great. He just said, ‘whatever it is, it is, we're gonna help the little guy.”
Lunenburg Police Chief Thomas Gammel, who works with Kathy as the Town Animal Control Officer and speaks with her on a regular basis, told her: “You can't keep paying these bills, Kathy.” Kathy replied, “I'm not gonna let him die.”
So Kathy’s Granddaughter, Mariah, started a GoFundMe to help her Grandparents to recover some of their out of pocket costs. We will share the funding link and other ways readers can help at the end of this article.
“We're up to like 4,000 something dollars in GoFund me. So at least the MRI is paid back. When the Vet at Tufts examined Nugget, Kathy says they all “fell in love with him, fell in love, everybody that meets him. The Vet talked with Kathy: “Let me talk to my associates. So she came back and she said, ‘we’re trying to help you with money here. I'll do the surgery, like a volunteer type thing…for less money. High end $6,000.’ So that was half of what it was gonna be. I thanked her and she said, I can do it on the 20th of July. And [the Vet] said, `I can't promise anything,’ but we can close a hole.”
Kathy continues to detail the options and what the Tufts Vet told her. “If you don't close the hole he is gonna get meningitis and die. And it's a painful death. So if you can, do the surgery. I'm gonna suggest we put him down”, in case you need that option,” the Vet explained. Kathy said “no, we'll do the surgery. So we're going on Wednesday and it'll be there for four or five days. It's a big, serious surgery, but she said, hopefully it's gonna help.”
In the meantime, Nugget is making some progress in the care of Kathy and Kathy. He’s walking a bit better. He’s up to 20 pounds, and while still needing a diaper, is overall in better health with some basic doggy PT. Nugget had been swimming in Kathy’s pool, which was excellent Physical Therapy, but that had to be curtailed until the surgery and healing is complete in order to avoid spinal infection. The surgeon can’t promise if they can ever get Nugget out of the diaper. “She can't promise me that, but I don't care right now. I just wanna make sure he is not gonna get meningitis. So, yep. It's been a struggle, but we’re trying different things, we got him in suspenders right now,” to hold the diaper on. The diaper is actually a toddler’s disposable swimmy diaper and looks very cute in his little outfit.
In addition to the ongoing GoFundMe for Nugget, others who have heard of Cathy and her husband’s generosity are helping out. “We have one anonymous donor just give me $500, to use towards whatever is needed. I had another $1000 donation. People have been good, everybody's been donating a little here, a little there. One company came over and gave me a thousand dollars. No questions. I said, ‘that's too much’, and they said, ‘Nope, you do a lot, And the puppy needs to be saved .”
Cathy figures that between the donations she’s gotten and will continue to get, the initial estimated cost of $12,000+ may end up just costing Cathy and her husband $1000 out of their own pockets. “And that’s OK,” Cathy says. And once this initial challenge is met, Nugget will require constant and continual medical care, so anything in excess of the actual costs will go towards that.
“When we walked into the clinic at Tufts, and everybody was there, oh my God, everybody went nuts. The doctor was sitting on the floor, playing with him and said, ‘God, Kathy, how can you put this to sleep?’ I said ‘I can't.’ I can't physically do it and mentally do it.”
Both Kathy and I can’t believe that there are people so despicable as to purposely injure a puppy and then drive it halfway across the country and leave it with someone who bought it sight unseen. But the silver lining is that Lunenburg is a town full of caring and generous people, and Nugget is lucky to have landed here, in the loving care of some of Lunenburg’s finest.
So that’s the story of Nugget, a growing pup worth his weight in gold! Watch for updates! Cathy will be calling me at press time to let me know how the surgery goes and we will keep you readers posted!
If you want to help you can go to Mariah’s GoFundMe set up to benefit Nugget: https://gofund.me/79198bae You can also email LunenburgLedger @gmail.com if you’d like to make a direct donation.