When Red’s hind legs went bad, Mike Mallory started using his.
Mallory — who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car crash in 2001 and lives mostly on disability benefits he receives in Billings, Montana — learned last year his 5-year-old red heeler needed the anterior cruciate ligament in his left hind leg replaced.
Mallory was unable to afford the $3,000 surgery, but told a local veterinary hospital “I’ll figure something out.”
Dr. Ken Brown at the Animal Clinic of Billings agreed to give Red the operation he needed, and worry about the bill later.
Now, between Mallory’s fund-raising on the streets, and some friends who have helped him get donations over the Internet, enough money has been raised to pay the bill for fixing Red’s left hind leg.
Yesterday, though, Red was back at the vet to get the same procedure — on his right hind leg.
The surgery was performed in January, and the vet warned Mallory at the time that Red’s other hind leg would, sooner or later, need the same procedure.
Red reported to the vet’s office yesterday for that, and once again the clinic said it would do the surgery and worry about the payments later.
For most of the year Mallory has been carting Red around Billings in the wagon. “Walking for Red” is the name of a campaign he created to cover the surgery costs and raise awareness of pet emergencies.
Meanwhile, a Connecticut woman who learned of Mallory’s efforts has been helping him raise money via Facebook and other websites. “That man would walk across the world for his dog, and I really believe that,” Patty Daponte said.
As Mallory, who admits to having been a bit of a rambler and a loner, explains it, his dog, and the community’s response to his dog’s dilemma, have renewed his sagging faith and showed him there’s good in the world.
He says he was planning to move back home to Virginia and become a hermit living in the mountains, until Red came into his life.
“I’m a better man because of him,” said Mallory. “He’s the most loyal friend I have. He’s made me more caring, more loving and more respectful.”
He was surprised, too, by the support he has received since his dog encountered hard times: “There’s a lot of love in this world,” he said. “I’ve seen that, and I want to see more of it and spread more of it.”
Once Red recovers from his second surgery, Mallory plans to embark on a “walkabout” in which he and Red travel on foot to a yet-to-be-determined city out of the state to continue spreading awareness and raise money for people in similar situations, according to the Gazette.
When a reporter interviewed him earlier this week, Mallory was pulling Red in the bright yellow wagon while picking up trash from the streets.
He sees it as a way to repay the kindness people have shown him over the last few months.
“It’s just one of my ways of paying it forward,” he said. ”I can’t pay it back financially, so I do it this way.”
(Photo: James Woodcock / Billings Gazette)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acl, animal clinic of billings, animals, anterior cruciate ligament, billings, brain injury, cost, disabled, dog, dogs, expense, fundraising, health, heeler, hind, internet, ken brown, leg, mike mallory, montana, patty daponte, pets, pulling, red, red heeler, surgery, veterinary, wagon