Family fights for surgery to save dog
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Oct 25, 2012 | 3420 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tina Castro and her son Joseph Ramirez spends some time Chloe with the family dog that ha a torn ACL in her hind leg.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Tina Castro and her son Joseph Ramirez spends some time Chloe with the family dog that ha a torn ACL in her hind leg. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
At first, Chloe, a 5-year-old Labrador-pit bull mix, appears to be a normal, healthy dog.

She romped happily around a Holly Drive living room Monday, Oct. 22. But within a few minutes, her pain medication wore off, and the injury to her back leg became apparent in the form of a pronounced limp.

It’s difficult for her owners, Tina Castro and her son, Joseph Ramirez, to watch.

“She’s my baby,” Castro said as she called the dog to her side.

The injury was the result of an accident Oct. 4, when Chloe — known for running to greet the family — tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right back leg.

On that particular day, Castro said she knew something bad had happened after Chloe ran out of her sight toward the kitchen.

“She yelped real loud, and then she was hopping around on her leg,” she said.

Castro thought Chloe had pulled a muscle, but the 80-pound canine wouldn’t put any weight on the leg, and it became clear that the injury was more severe.

A visit to a veterinarian confirmed that she had torn the ACL and would need surgery.

Unfortunately, for the Castro family, that surgery is not fiscally possible.

“I’m barely making it (financially),” Castro said. “This is breaking my heart.”

She said money would not have been an issue a couple of years ago, when she received a small inheritance from her parents. She and her husband were also both working full-time jobs.

But the couple has separated, and having to rely on one income, Castro said paying $2,500 to $4,000 for Chloe’s surgery will be impossible without help.

To seek help, Ramirez set up a Twitter account at and a website at

So far, Ramirez said, word of mouth has spread through Twitter, but only $2.78 has been raised through PayPal.

“(We’re) not asking people to donate a lot of money, just a dollar or two,” Castro said, adding that any money left over will help her start a grassroots effort to finance unexpected pet-related costs for other pet owners.

“I’d like to get this going, not only for her, but for others that need it,” Castro said. “There’s nothing out there.”

According to Tracy Animal Shelter supervisor Ben Miller, Castro is not the only pet owner in a financial bind.

In the past 10 months, 85 people turned over their dogs or cats to the shelter. A quarter of those were the result of financial difficulties, he said.

“We have quite a few owner surrender animals — being such that it is, we’ve seen an increase in the last couple of years,” he said Tuesday, Oct. 23. “This morning, before we opened, somebody left a cute little Chihuahua mix in a cat carrier out front. Not a note or anything. There’s a chance it could have been a good Samaritan with a stray they found. My experience, it was an owner surrender.”

Miller said the number of pets given up to the shelter appears to be leveling off. He said the waiting time to get an appointment to surrender an animal has shortened from a month during the summer to five days.

“It’s sad,” he said. “People lose a job, or furloughs, or whatever the case.”

Castro said she adopted Chloe from a Bay Area shelter when the dog was 2 months old. She had already been abandoned by three families.

Although Castro said euthanasia is not an option, she fears she will not be able to pay for the surgery her dog needs.

According to an official of a local veterinarian group, who asked to remain anonymous, Chloe’s tale is not unique.

“A lot of people don’t necessarily have money to set aside when the economy becomes bad,” she said. “We see more of it than we did before. Whether the economy is good or bad, there is an awful lot of people who live paycheck to paycheck in more instances, and they are now having difficulty finding solutions.”

Castro said she and her son plan to do whatever they must to save their dog. She said time is short, though, because veterinarians have said Chloe is likely to tear the ACL in her other back leg if the first one is not repaired by January.

“I treat my dog like she’s my kid,” Castro said. “I hate to see her limping in pain.”

n Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or
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