For Maria, the answer was easy.
She would pick her dog over heat in her house or a roof over her head any day. But that day came a little too close to becoming reality after her landlord said she either gets her 2-year-old pit bull mix fixed or chooses between losing the dog or the place they call home.
What her landlord didn’t know, however, was that, to Maria, a house doesn’t make a home. Family does. And there’s absolutely nothing she wouldn’t do to keep the only family member she has close to her side … Bitchetta.
“If I didn’t get it done in a week then I was gonna have to move, and I’d be homeless,” Maria said, fighting back tears that have been building up for quite some time. “And I would just have to go to a [homeless] shelter because I’m not going to give up my dog … I’m just not.”
However, having only seven short days to get her spayed wasn’t the only problem Maria was facing. She had no money.
“I can’t give up my baby.”
Maria lives in public housing with her companion animal, but her being up to date on shots wasn’t enough for the landlord to let her keep her dog. Elderly, disabled, alone and beside herself, she had no idea how she was going to pay to get her fixed when she’s on supplemental security income.
But Maria had already made up her mind if worst came to worst. She’s gone without paying her bills before, but even then, she wouldn’t have enough time to save up nearly as much money as she needed to afford the surgery. If she were to end up homeless, at least she had the one thing that could make the tough times worthwhile.
There are days when Maria’s illness flares up more than others, but Bitchetta stays at her side, comforting her in bed and giving her kisses for as long as it takes to make her feel better. She’s also the one who forces her to get out and exercise on her good ones, going on walks or play fighting, which are some of their favorite things to do together.
Without her, Maria couldn’t make it.
“That’s my companion, that’s my baby,” she said, having yet to let those tears get the best of her even though the pain in her voice was clear as day. “I can’t give up my baby.”
No matter how poorly things played out in her head, Maria wasn’t going to give up hope. She knew she had to keep fighting to give her dog the best life possible because that’s what she has given her.
“I’m not going to give up my dog … I’m just not.”
She had heard about our organization before, but she never followed through with services because she didn’t have the transportation to get here. With her hands tied, she gave it one last shot.
That’s when we got a phone call from Maria – a phone call that changed both of their lives, and ours, for the better.
In hysterics, she explained to Amanda, a member of our call center team, everything that was going on, and Amanda couldn’t help but break down in tears right along with her. Being the miracle worker she is, Amanda approved an overbook for surgery on December 29, the last day Maria had to get her fixed before getting evicted, and subsidized the entire cost of her surgery with the help of donations. She even scheduled for our outreach team to pick Bitchetta up and drop her off after surgery so Maria didn’t have to scramble even more to find a ride to our clinic.
This news, of course, only amplified Maria’s water works, but they were happy tears this time. She couldn’t find the words to express how grateful she was, and she didn’t need to because the tender way she looked at Bitchetta on the day we met them in person said it all.
“Hers knows she’s mama’s little girl.”
While we were there, we gave her a pet food pantry application, treats and some emergency food to get her by. On our way back, we brought a tie-out, a couple food bowls and a sweater she had requested.
Now the two have everything they need – heat in their house, a roof over their heads and one another to call home – and then some.
“She means the world to me.” she told us. Then, turning to Bitchetta, she said, “Yes, she does. Hers knows she’s mama’s little girl.”
Keeping pets and people together is all we could ever ask for.