Sandy the dachshund has been part of the Furina family since she was a puppy.
“We think she’s part-human, to be honest. She has a real happy outlook,” says owner Charlie Furina, an electrician and single father who lives in Camden with his children, Tiana, 19, and Daniel, 16. “Sandy is Daniel’s little sidekick. Wherever he is, she’s there.”
One night, about five months ago, Charlie let the dog out of the house for her usual run. “But then I started calling and she wouldn’t come,” he says. “I’m calling and calling and starting to get a bit concerned.
Then finally, she comes around the corner, but she’s limping and she doesn’t look happy. I pick her up and she lets out a kind of scream. I didn’t know what had happened, but there was a bit of blood.”
When he took Sandy to the University of Sydney’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Camden, the extent of her injuries became clear. Her back leg had broken in three places and her pelvis was fractured. The vets suspected she had fought with a fox.
Her injuries were so severe that the only options were to amputate her leg or put her down. Charlie knew it would break his son’s heart if Sandy died, but he couldn’t afford the surgery on her leg.
He left Sandy with the vets overnight while he tried to decide how to tell his children their dog wouldn’t be coming home. “It was gut-wrenching,” he says. “I spent most of the next day trying to work out what to say to the kids. I don’t usually show too much emotion but, I can tell you, I wasn’t happy.”
Charlie knew it would break his son’s heart if Sandy died, but he couldn’t afford the surgery on her leg.
He still hadn’t spoken to the children when the veterinary hospital called. They told him the University could cover the cost of the surgery through the Animals in Need fund. Launched by the Sydney School of Veterinary Science in 2012, the donor-supported fund helps the University’s teaching hospitals treat animals whose owners cannot afford for pay for their care. The fund also supports treatment for strays and injured wildlife.
On 17 September, the University will acknowledge the donors who support such initiatives with its inaugural Thank You Day. Over the last decade, more than 64,000 donors have contributed a total of $1 million to University research, education and community projects.
For Charlie and his family, the assistance from the Animals in Need fund was “an unbelievable blessing”. Sandy’s surgery went smoothly and she adapted quickly to life on three legs.
“She runs, she jumps and she plays with other dogs,” says Charlie. “She can’t jump onto the beds anymore, but it hasn’t stopped her jumping on the lounge. She’s a spoilt little princess.”
On 17 September, we celebrate University donors with Thank You Day. See how our donors are changing the world.