Dog News

Community Helps Homeless Man Save His Dog

by Katherine

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130514 Gilliam Big
Photo Credit: Jasmine Dustin


Charles Gilliam lived on the streets of Los Angeles with his dog Big. Last month he was desperately asking for help to save the life of his best friend. Big is an 11-year-old retriever/terrier mix. Gilliam believed Big would die if he didn’t receive medical care. Animal lover and activist Jasmine Dustin decided to help.

“I met this homeless man sitting on the side of the street not begging for money but asking to help save his dog,” said Dustin. “Instead of collecting money he was handing out the vet’s card.”

Months before Dustin met the homeless man and his dog, Big was a happy-go-lucky pet like any other healthy pet. However, Big became lethargic and stopped eating. Worried, Gilliam visited a veterinarian in San Francisco, but unfortunately was told his dog had a large inoperable tumor and the best thing they could do was euthanize him.

Heart broken, Gilliam left the vet office with his beloved companion. He refused to believe there was nothing to be done to help his best friend. The homeless man and his dog kept living on the streets, hoping for the best.

When Dustin met Gilliam, she knew she had to help them.

The woman convinced Gilliam to visit Pet Care Veterinary Center Chesterfield Square with her. She promised Gilliam she will help him pay for the medical cost somehow.

Dustin took to social media and started asking the public to help her save Big. She set up an online donation page.

“Charles lives on the street with nothing but his companion Big,” said Dustin. “His dog is very sick and needs surgery.”

On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, Big was examined by Pet Care Veterinary Center.

“There might be an abnormality in the intestine region,” said Alex Tiraki, supervisor for Care Veterinary Center Chesterfield Square. “We are hoping it is just an infection, but we won’t know for sure until Friday when we will do an ultrasound on Big. He has hope.”

130514 Gilliam Big2
Photo Credit: Jasmine Dustin

When Gilliam heard there was a possibility there was nothing life-threatening for Big, he was overcome with emotions.

“He hugged me when I told him there was hope,” said Tiraki.

By then, the donation site Dustin started had collected $300. The veterinary center estimated the cost of the ultrasound at $295, but if Big did need surgery, that would be an additional cost of $1,000 plus any other medicines the dog would need.

Gilliam returned to the vet center with Big for the ultrasound on Friday, May 10, 2013. The exam confirmed that Big was not terminally ill.

“The ultrasound showed that big had no tumors,” said Tiraki. “Big does have stones in his urinary track and has arthritis.”

The stones can be fixed by flushing them out, but the arthritis will need some medication. Tiraki also recommended that Big be put on a special diet to avoid stones in the future.

The dog was scheduled to get the stones flushed the following morning, after that, he was free to go back with his owner.

The special diet that Big needs is a prescription diet dog food. This is available at the vet center, but since Gilliam lacks economic resources it would be very difficult for him to buy the dog food.

“Since he [Gilliam] lives on the streets, it is unlikely that he would carry large bags of dog food with him when he needs to move around,” said Tiraki. “If the owner can’t provide the dog with the special diet, he will need to bring the dog in for regular flushings. He feeds Big what he can. Probably the same food he [Gilliam] eats,” Tiraki continue.

Not only did Big get help, but Gilliam did too. Through Dustin’s social media networking, Gilliam was offered a place to live.

On Facebook, Dustin announced the good news to her friends and followers. Gilliam and Big’s new home is only five miles away from the vet in South Los Angeles.

Regarding the promise Dustin made to Gilliam, she was able to collect over $1,500 to cover all of Big’s medical expenses. She is also providing Big bags of the special dog food he needs.

“I would love to start helping more homeless people and their companions,” said Dustin. “I think this will be my next venture. There is one shelter here in LA that does allow them to bring in their dogs. I think it would be great to help in some way!”

If you are interested in helping Gilliam and Big you can make a donation directly to Pet Care Veterinary Center Chesterfield Square. You can call their offices at (323) 294-4030, or visit their location at 2009 W Slauson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90047. You can also donate to Cause4Paws, Los Angeles.

Connect with Cause4Paws on Facebook.