Doby needed surgery. It cost $10,000. Twitter to the rescue.

Published September 21 2018
Updated September 22 2018

Two University of South Florida students found themselves with a $10,000 bill to keep their beloved mutt Doby alive. So they turned to the Internet.

Twitter to the rescue — for once.

It started Sept. 15, when USF student Sarah Marie Grassi left the Tampa campus behind for dinner with her mom and a stress-free weekend at home in Lehigh Acres.

They left Grassi’s 5-year-old mutt Doby at her mom’s home that Sept. 15 night. They strapped him in a harness, and tied his leash around a bed post, hoping to keep him secure. He has separation anxiety and isn’t used to being alone. But it was just dinner — they figured he could handle it.

When they returned from dinner two hours later, a hole was in the front door and the mutt was gone.

"I was hysterical. I was crying the whole time," Grassi said. "I just kept saying ‘he’d never leave the yard, he would never do it.’"

They searched for Doby using social media. Three hours later they got a Facebook message at about 11:30 p.m.: A small dog had been struck by a car and left on the side of the road just one street from where the mother lived.

The dog was rushed to Specialized Vet Services in Fort Myers, a 30-minute drive away. Doby, 20 pounds, was diagnosed with a slew of injuries. Both of his back legs were fractured and so was his pelvis. He had extensive damage to his face and eye, had embolisms in his lungs and lost a lot of blood.

"I thought he was going to die in my arms," Grassi said.

Grassi, 21, and her boyfriend Alberto Remy, 20, wanted to do everything they could for their beloved dog. Grassi got Doby six years ago when someone was giving away dogs at Publix . Remy grew to love the dog just as much.

The couple took out a $2,500 loan to pay for medical expenses — but Doby’s first night at the vet alone already cost $3,000.

"I talked to some people about it and the idea of putting him down and we felt like it wasn’t an option," Grassi said. "Taking his life isn’t worth any amount of money so we knew we had to find it."

But if Doby was going to make it, he needed more X-rays, an MRI and surgery. Total price tag: $10,000. The veterinarian agreed to do it for $6,000.

Plates and pins were inserted into the dog’s hind legs and a joint in his pelvis had to be removed. Doby also needed a blood and plasma transfusion — another $1,000 — as his fractures nicked an artery.

Family and friends suggested the couple crowd-source Doby’s expenses. They were getting donations here and there, but then Twitter account WeRateDogs (@dog_rates) — 7.26 million followers — shared the link to Doby’s GoFundMe page. And then on Friday, it exploded.

"We were getting donations every few hours and had gotten about $1,000," Grassi explained. "And then all of a sudden within a single hour we had over the $10,000 goal."

Now, with almost $12,000 on hand for medical expenses, the couple can breathe a sigh of relief — for now. Doby is on the up-swing. The veterinarian expects him to make a full recovery, but Doby must continue physical therapy. He still can’t walk on his own.

Grassi and Remy, both full-time students at USF, are coordinating their schedules so that someone is with Doby at all times.

"I’ve had this dog for six years and the thought of not coming home for hearing his little feet pitter-patter broke my heart," Grassi said.

Contact McKenna Oxenden at Follow @mack_oxenden