It wasn’t very long ago that a three-year-old Chow mix named Hope was rescued and taken into the Maricopa County East Animal Shelter. But she had a tremendous fear of people, and was scheduled to be put on the e-list because of it. Second Chance Dogs tried searching for a rescue group, foster home or adoptive family, but had no luck, and time was quickly running out.
But 22-year-old Nick Kitmitto knew she was savable, and took her in to his Arizona home before she could be put down. Nick devotes most of his free time with an assortment of rescue groups, saving dogs that have health issues preventing their adoption, often spending his own money keeping dogs off of death row and getting them into loving homes.
“Nick will legitimately adopt a dog out of the pound right before its euthanasia date, bring them into his home, take them to his vet and treat them, and then find them homes once they are well,” said friend Jessica Secord.
Hope would pancake to the ground when touched by humans, making it difficult to for anyone to get close enough to want to adopt her. Nick raised money for her adoption fee and brought her home to his three other dogs – two permanent and one foster. He isn’t able to keep her, but has been working on rehabilitating Hope enough to find her a suitable home.
When she was brought to Nick’s house, Hope was quarantined for 10 days to make sure she didn’t have Parvo, which could be passed on to his other pups. During that time, it was discovered that she had intestinal worms, which have since been treated.
But Hope’s health problems weren’t over. She seemed to be spotting blood as if she was in heat, even though she had been spayed the month prior. Nick turned her over for an inspection, and noticed a protrusion from her lady bits. He took her to his vet, who had never seen the likes of it. Photos and a biopsy were taken and sent in to canine cancer specialists.
A few days later the results were in: Hope had a canine transmissible venereal tumor, or TVT. It is one of the few cancers that can be transmitted from dog to dog, generally during copulation. However, TVT is treatable with surgery and/or vincristine, a mild form of chemotherapy. But not many vets were willing to do the treatment, and those that did were charging exorbitant fees.
“One vet wanted to charge me $150 just for walking in the door each time to get the chemo, another vet said $5,000-$8,000 to administer it,” Nick explained. “Well, I found a vet in Glendale that is helping me out; they are administering the vincristine for her, for $25/dose, plus the blood panels that need to be done.”
Ever cautious and compassionate with his charges, Nick also asked for a heartworm test. Vets told him she wasn’t a likely candidate, but Nick insisted. Hope’s test came back positive, though only ever so slightly – it was caught early.
Now Hope is on several medications, and is currently being tested for valley fever and tick fever, but with proper treatment, she is expected to recover shortly.
“She should be ready to be adopted in a matter of about two months, after her chemo treatments and to give her time to settle down and just live like a dog without having to be shuffled around so soon,” Nick said.
Medical bills are mounting, and though Nick spends every spare dime he can on rescue and foster dogs, he could use a little help with Hope.
In the time spent at Nick’s home, Hope has gone from being a fearful dog to a curious and shy, but friendly girl. She is leash-trained and is an easy walker. Hope is getting along with his other dogs, and is almost ready for a home of her own. She’s currently in Mesa, Arizona.
If you are interested in helping with Hope’s treatments or adopting her, please visit her fundraiser page or contact Nick through Hope’s Facebook page. Check out the page anyway for more adorable photos of this sweetheart of a dog!