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Couple appeal for money to help save dog's life after spending entire wedding fund on treatment

Bella the Shih Tzu Credit: Bristol Post

A couple who spent their entire wedding fund to treat their dog are appealing for more money - to save her life.

Maria Grace and her partner Gareth have so far paid £13,000 in vet fees to treat eight-year-old Shih Tzu Bella, who is riddled with arthritis and completely lame on her right side.

Now Bella's vet says the couple's only options are putting her down, or surgery which costs £8,000.

So many people have said, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re spending that much money on a dog.’

Gareth and I got engaged on April 28, 2018, and we were hoping to get married on the same date in 2020.

We saved about £7,000 towards it, so we were doing quite well with the savings, but that’s now been spent on Bella.

It sounds silly to some people but Bella and her brother Len are part of our family. When I couldn’t have any more children after my daughter Charlotte, they kind of became my babies.

– Maria Grace
Bella the Shih Tzu Credit: Bristol Post

The family, from Pontypridd in South Wales, is under "massive strain" financially as Maria is unable to work while she recovers from a complete hysterectomy after years of suffering from tumours and endometriosis.

But determined not to give up on her dog, Maria has now launched a Gofundme page to raise the £8,000 required for the treatment at Langford Small Animal Hospital in North Somerset.

Maria added: “If there’s a chance here with this specialist surgery, I want to give it one last shot.

“She’s a really affectionate dog, with a lovely temperament. She loves life."

If Bella can spend her remaining years being able to actually run and play on this planet, then I want that so much for her.

– Maria Grace
Maria and partner Gareth with daughter Charlotte and dogs Bella and Len Credit: Bristol Post

Bella was born eight years ago with weakness in her hind legs. She and Len were taken in by Maria’s family shortly after their births.

Maria said: “The family we took her from said she was just going to be used as a breeding dog.

“They warned us she wasn’t well, but we felt sorry for her. Charlotte, who’s now 18, was born with weakness in her left side too.

“She immediately picked Bella and said, ‘Can we have her because she has a bad leg like me?’ We couldn’t just leave her there.”

Bella suffered a series of leg breaks, torn cruciate ligaments and muscle pain as she grew up.

In the past two years she has had three surgeries alone.

Bella and Len have been part of the family for eight years. Credit: Bristol Post

In July this year Bella ruptured her left cruciate ligament and injured her left kneecap in the process.

Two days before her surgery date, she the jumped off the sofa and completely ruptured her right cruciate ligament, as well as badly injuring her right kneecap.

Bella was taken in for emergency surgery on her right leg, but her tissue is not knitting together as vets hoped it would.

The dog is lame on her right side, unable to even toe-tap on the floor, while her left side is deteriorating.

At this point the vet said we had tried everything so it wouldn’t be the incorrect decision to let her go to sleep.

– Maria Grace

The vet proposed the last resort of an £8,000 surgery, which would see Bella given new metal knees by one of the top specialists in the country.

The family’s vet said the operation would have a 95 per cent chance of being a permanent fix.

Maria said: “It feels strange to reach out to the world for financial support. You don’t realise how much pride you have, until you have to swallow it.

“Of course I’m scared that we won’t make it, but honestly, it’s worth the risk, and every penny counts.”

Bella after one of her many operations Credit: Bristol Post

The Gofundme page has so far raised £847 towards the target and Maria has been shocked by the kindness of strangers.

She revealed one woman, whose own dog had to be put down, was so moved by Bella’s story she has been selling cups and t-shirts emblazoned with the dog’s image to raise money.

Maria said: “She’s a complete stranger, just very kind. It’s nice to see people get it, and don’t think we’re being dramatic or silly.

“A couple of people have been donating a little something every time they get their paycheck. It’s really heartwarming.”

The family hopes to raise the money for the operation as quickly as possible so Bella is out of pain soon.

You can donate to the fundraiser here.