Donors have forked out more than $3000 to give an ill-fated pug dog life-saving facial surgery.
Dargaville's Rebecca Woollam sought help online in August last year after discovering that a 12-week-old puppy born with a severe cleft palate to her own pug would not survive unless he had surgery to repair the top of his mouth and throat.
She set up a heartfelt plea for help on Givealittle.co.nz, which attracted $3305 in donations. By October the pug, named Clefty at birth and subsequently renamed Romeo, was in a operating theatre in Auckland having the $3230 surgery needed to repair his throat - with the remainder of the money spent on travel.
"We are so grateful for all the public's help as we couldn't have done this on our own," Ms Woollam said. Romeo/Clefty had since been adopted by another Dargaville family and was living a normal life. He was small for his age given his early trials and could only drink from a "hampster style" upside down water bottle, because the roof of his mouth was still slightly open.
"I felt it would be best for him, as I have little ones and stuff is always over the floor ... Clefty with his open palate would be a disaster waiting to happen ... He is their baby (now) and is thoroughly spoilt."
Ms Woollam said a second surgery, expected to cost $1800, would perfect the puppy and was being saved for. But for now, he was out of the woods.
"I had the pleasure of doggie sitting Clefty for a week while his family went camping and it was great to have him again to see how he's getting on with his disability ... He's doing great," she said.
Ms Woollam described herself as "a softie". Before surgery the unlucky pug had already cost her more than $600 in vet bills - his misfortunes included nearly dying during his emergency caesarean birth and a middle-of-the-night accident which saw his eyeball pop out.