PITSFIELD — The life of a stray toy poodle dubbed Paco was spared this week when the Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital performed a nearly $2,000 surgery for free.
The young, fluffy black dog, who weighs about 9 pounds, was found Sunday tied to a pole on Seymour Street and taken to the municipal shelter, where it was being cared for by animal control officers and volunteers.
When volunteers noticed that the dog had stopped eating and appeared to be in pain Wednesday, they notified Animal Control Officer Joseph Chague, who arranged that the dog be seen at Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital on Thursday, according to Pittsfield Police Lt. Gary Traversa.
There, Dr. Bridget Pope determined that the dog was suffering from an inguinal hernia and required surgery to put his bladder and intestines back into place.
"It said a lot to me that the folks that are volunteering there are paying attention and take it seriously," Dr. John Reynolds of the animal hospital said Friday. "This is kind of a big deal. You're having to open up part of his belly, push everything back in there and then repair the hernia."
Dr. Madeleine Hoog-Crellin operated on the dog, who is mellow in temperament, for more than an hour, Reynolds said.
He would have likely died if he didn't receive attention for the hernia, Reynolds said.
The surgery and hospitalization would have otherwise cost $1,500 to $1,800, but because the dog was in the care of the city and there were no available programs to fund the services, the animal hospital opted to do it pro bono, Reynolds said.
If Paco had been older, the veterinarians might have made the decision to euthanize him.
"I think what was special is that it was a young dog with a problem that we can fix," Reynolds said, adding that every circumstance is different.
The animal hospital is a business and can't offer free services for every animal whose owner can't afford to treat them, but the office made an exception for Paco, he said.
Paco will recover at the hospital for a few more days and then, if not claimed by an owner, will be turned over to the Berkshire Humane Society, where he will be available for adoption.
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and 413-770-6977.