By BIANCA LOPEZ
When Taylor Spike, a junior human performance major, noticed his 7-month-old puppy Nitro starting to refuse food and lose weight last week, Spike grew concerned. He took the black lab-pit mix to the vet’s office where he learned of an obstruction in his gastrointestinal tract. The only options seemed to be a surgery that Spike could not afford, estimated to cost between $4,000 and $6,200, or losing his furry friend.
Spike, along with his roommate and lacrosse teammate Ryan Vella, a junior human performance major, decided to ask friends and family for support through a GoFundMe page.
On the page, Spike wrote: “I’m starting this page out of desperation… I don’t know how much longer he can keep this up… Bottom line is I love this dog more than I’ve loved anything in my life and this is me doing what it takes to save him.”
The entire lacrosse team sees Nitro as an unofficial mascot.
“The team and their friends and their family was where the main donations came from. The dog is well known amongst all of their friends,” said Marina Felmly, a sophomore graphic design major and Vella’s girlfriend. “He’s the sweetest, most cuddly pup ever. Not even one, he is so hyper but when he was going through this he was so docile, and sleepy. The poor thing.”
Spike explained that he had personally only been approved for $500 through Care Credit, a credit card specifically used for healthcare purposes.
“When I started the GoFundMe page I didn’t really expect much, so I spent a lot of time looking into other foundations that donate money to dogs,” Vella said. “But after about three hours I was like whoa this might actually work. So I shared it on my Facebook and the lacrosse team’s private page. Minutes after every player was sharing it, and then there family’s and friends shared it and the money skyrocketed.”
Within the first day of opening, the page raised $3,275 from 91 different donors.
“Me and Taylor were like ‘dude at this rate we’re going to have more than enough by the end of the day,’” Vella said.
Because of the exigent nature of the surgery, Spike was able to bring Nitro in after giving the vets half the money upfront.
“So we took Nitro for surgery that day and he was out by the next day, happy as a clam,” Vella said.
The vet discovered that the obstruction was nothing more than a peach pit – a peach pit that, gone unremoved, could have been the end for Nitro.
Luckily for Nitro, the surgery ended up costing less than estimated. Due to the generosity and support of the lacrosse team and the community, Spike was able to raise more money than the actual surgery ended up costing.
“They don’t need any more money,” Felmly said. “But if there is extra they are going to donate the extra money to the humane society, to help other puppies in need.”
Spike and Vella thank everyone for their support through this tough time for Nitro.
“Nitro lost 7lbs which is about 1/7 of his weight and the obstruction was in danger of perforating his intestines so if we didn’t act as soon as we did we might have lost him,” Vella said. “UT lacrosse literally saved that dog, it’s amazing.”