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Donations roll in for veteran's dachshund; veterinarians to examine huge tumor

Daniel Braden holds Pebbles, his 11-year-old dachshund, on his lap. The dog’s tumor can be seen resting on Braden’s knee.

Community comes through for Pebbles

Kind-hearted residents throughout Mohave County are reaching out to help Pebbles, an 11-year-old dachshund, get the surgery she needs to remove a tumor.

"I've had quite a few calls, and a woman came over with $100 and stayed for a while to play with my dogs," said owner Daniel Braden this week, noting he has an appointment at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 2 at Cerbat Cliffs Animal Hospital. "A lot of people are concerned about Pebbles. Three other people are sending checks. I think the surgery is going to get done for her. This is the best Christmas ever for us, and I can't thank people enough for their kindness."

Braden is asking that anyone still interested in helping cover the cost of Pebbles' surgery and recovery donate directly to the animal hospital by calling (928) 757-8855.

The dog's plight was published in the Kingman Daily Miner last week after the distraught owner contacted the newspaper for assistance. Braden, 58, said he noticed a golf ball-sized lump hanging from his pet's left side about six months ago and began calling around to local veterinarians to see what it would take to have it removed. Braden said he was told then it would cost a minimum of $500 - cash up front - to see the dog and perform the operation.

Since then, the tumor has grown to the size of a soft ball. Braden, a U.S. Army veteran who is receiving disability for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has been struggling to pay medical bills and keep his utilities connected. He didn't have any extra cash to offer for his dog's care, but said he called all the veterinary hospitals in the area and told them they could automatically deduct payments out of his bank account as a guarantee for the bill.

When that suggestion was turned down, he offered to give all his grooming equipment - about $30,000 - to any clinic that would help him. Braden owned a successful grooming business for about 15 years in Crestline, Calif., before moving to Kingman four years ago. The business, called All Creatures Great and Small, had three bathers, two groomers and served about 15 animals a day. All the animal hospitals he called turned him down, he said.

Braden raised Pebbles since birth after her mother died during delivery. Braden said the veterinarian handed him eight newborn puppies, which he bottle-fed and stimulated to go to the bathroom every hour or two for the first few weeks. All the puppies survived, and Braden kept Pebbles and her sister, Sunshine. He still has both.

Jim Flynn, the new owner of Kingman Honda and the Kingman Chevrolet Buick dealership, called the Daily Miner after reading the article and volunteered to assist financially with Pebbles' surgery. Flynn, who moved to Kingman a few weeks ago, said he has two golden retrievers who go to work with him and understands the importance of canine companionship.

"I can't imagine anyone going through this with a dog they care so much about," said Flynn. "I'm a dog lover and I would do anything for mine, and this man seems to feel the same way about his dog. Besides, it's Christmas and I have the means to be able to help him out this holiday season."

Ruby Duey, who owns Kingman Animal Hospital with Dr. Erika Angone and is the practice manager there, also read the story about Pebbles and called this week. Duey said that when people come to the hospital and don't have the money to pay for services, she gives them a list of websites where they can apply for financial assistance and often get it within 24 hours.

"There's money out there, but people have to look for it," said Duey. "I go to the web sites every two or three months and make a list of the places that can help. And we've had people come in with their animals who have used the money they've received from some of these web sites. Pets are financial burdens, just like children, and we try to help out, but we usually help the people who take our advice and are willing to help themselves."

Some of those web sites on Duey's list are IMOM: In Memory of Magic at www.imom.org, REDROVER at www.redrover.org/, The Buddy Care Foundation at www.buddycare.org, FVEAP: Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance at www.fveap.org, Animal Guardian Network at www.animalguardiannetwork.org and Starfleet Canine Aid Foundation at www.starfleetcanineaid.org, The list also includes local pawn shops, and title loan and payday loan businesses where pet owners can get money.

Duey said the tumor on Pebbles, from what she could see in the story's accompanying photograph, would probably cost about $1,000 to remove. Duey said the hospital works with clients as much as possible, but has to spread its charity throughout the community, too, with donations to animal welfare and rescue organizations and by providing shot clinics. Kingman Animal Hospital also gave Christmas gifts to 38 senior citizens at The Gardens in Kingman.

"I don't want people to think the animal hospitals around here are shutting people out in the cold," said Duey. "The local veterinarians do care about animals and they already do so much to help them. We get calls every day from people who need financial assistance, and we do what we can for them. But if we gave away every service and product we had, we wouldn't be in business anymore."


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