LONG BEACH - A broken-down dog with a lot of years left is looking for some holiday cheer this year - and the people helping him recover are looking for some help from the community to make that happen.
Charlie, a flat-coated retriever, is recuperating after surgery to repair a broken left leg after being hit by a car in Ocean Park in late October. Charlie's owner, who was no longer able to care for the canine, signed over the dog to the Pacific County Humane Society in Long Beach. They took the dog saying, "He's too sweet to put down."
Ed Ketel and his wife, Catherine Lindblad, who run the Oceanside Animal Clinic, saw Charlie a few days after the accident. The dog had a pelvis broken in three places, a broken leg and two ruptured knees.
"His left femur was horribly fractured, it had been broken for several days," said Lindblad. "The poor old guy was just kind of a wreck."
Lindblad explained the dog's pelvis will have to heal on its own, and they will have to wait until the leg stabilizes before they can do the two separate arthroscopic surgeries needed to repair Charlie's knees.
"The idea is to nurse him along and get these knees fixed in time," she said. "He's a really nice dog, fairly young. He's just a good guy, I think that's why everyone is rooting for him."
While Charlie recovers and prepares for another round of surgeries, he'll be under the watchful eye of Melanie Mills, who has been fostering invalid animals for the last 10 years.
"He's been here for a month, but I expect that we'll have him for the next six months to heal," said Mills. "He's probably the nicest house dog I've ever had in my life."
Mills fosters animals for the Humane Society, but does not keep them once they are healed, giving them back to the Humane Society to adopt out. Mills moved to the Peninsula a year ago from Longview and continued her service with special-needs dogs.
"I have quite a bit of experience, that's how I ended up with him," said Mills. "My home is always open to the Humane Society if they have special needs. I'll do cats, I'll do whatever. I feel that's my contribution back to the dog world."
And Mills said Charlie has been the perfect house guest, getting on well with the family and her dogs, American Staffordshire terriers she enters in dog shows.
"It's been good," she said. "He's just a really sweet nice dog. He just fit right in here."
But with a vet bill that is estimated to total more than $3,000 after both knee surgeries, Mills said they are hoping the generous spirit that fills the area, especially this time of year, will generate some funds toward Charlie's recovery. As of now, the Oceanside Animal Clinic has done all the work pro bono, figuring the Humane Society probably wouldn't be able to pay.
"The vets have just been wonderful in shouldering the financial burden," said Mills. "This is a dog from the community and maybe the community will help support him."
The Humane Society was able to give $200 to the veterinarians toward the bill, but it was simply all they could afford.
"We just kind of assume that we have to absorb the rest," said Lindblad. "We don't expect the shelter to do that."
But money or no, Lindblad said as soon as Charlie is able, they will perform the needed knee operations. And if all goes well, Charlie could be catching Frisbees again by this spring.
"We need to get some help to get this dog on his feet," said Mills.
For more information, or to give a donation to Charlie, call the Pacific County Humane Society at 642-1180 or the Oceanside Animal Clinic at 642-2232.