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Small dog has a big heart

Published:   |   Updated: May 8, 2013 at 09:46 AM

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Steve and Madeline Daggett found Oso just a few days after their dog of more than a decade died in March. The Daggetts were dropping off unused supplies at the SPCA of Hernando County and were introduced to a black-and-tan Chihuahua named Oso.

They fell in love with him right away, and though they had no intentions of getting another dog so soon, Oso was on his way home with them.

The only thing the Daggetts had to take care of was having the 2-and-a-half-year-old dog neutered.

“He seemed like a perfectly healthy dog,” Madeline Daggett said.

But, a few weeks later, the veterinarian said Oso could not be operated on. Oso was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosis, or PDA, a relatively common heart defect in breeds such as Chihuahuas, poodles and Shetlands, which causes blood to pump backward, resulting in an enlarged heart. Oso’s heart is too big — about 180 percent too big.

Surgery is effective but costly, according to Karen Rooney, a vet tech at the SPCA of Hernando County. The surgery alone is expected to cost about $4,000, and the Daggetts are scrambling to find a way to finance the procedure.

“He’s a little angel, and he deserves a chance,” said Madeline Daggett, adding Oso had been adopted two times before in his life. He lived in an abusive home, and his next family said he didn’t get along with other animals. The Daggetts say Oso gets along with everyone — even cats — and suspect his previous owners knew about the heart defect when they gave him back to the shelter.

“He’s the cutest, friendliest dog,” Steve Daggett said. “He has his full life ahead of him” and should be given the chance to live.

The Daggetts, still paying off their last dog’s medical bills, said the debt doesn’t matter if you love an animal. So far, with the SPCA’s help, they have raised about $700.

Oso is living on “borrowed time,” according to the Daggetts. Madeline Daggett won’t leave him alone, and even though he likes to play with his toys, she doesn’t encourage it because he loses his breath. Without the surgery, Oso could live as little as three weeks. With oxygen and medication, maybe a bit longer.

The Daggetts are hoping hoping to raise at least half of the cost of the surgery through donations or find a vet willing to accept partial payments or a reduced cost.

“Please help us,” the Daggetts said.

The SPCA of Hernando County is accepting donations on Oso’s behalf, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward his medical care. Checks should be made out to the SPCA and have “Oso’s fund” in the memo line and mailed to 9075 Grant St. in Brooksville.

(352) 544-5283

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