On Dec. 13, Port Washington resident Anthony DiPreta was on his way to Alabama with a friend to pick up a puppy for his friend to bring home for Christmas. On his way back to The University of the South (Sewanee), the two exited the highway to let the new puppy go to the bathroom when DiPreta saw a dog curled up in the grass between two gravel roads.
“She had a collar, but she was not in good shape,” said DiPreta, who described the pup as malnourished, shivering and limping with scratches all over her body and blood on her head. “I was nervous at first because I didn’t know if she would lash out, but right when I walked over to her, she was wagging her tail.”
DiPreta asked a few locals close by if they recognized her and one man told him the area they had stopped in was a popular place to abandon dogs.
“I decided I couldn’t leave her,” said DiPreta, who named the dog Georgia after the name of the road he found her on. “Right when I was holding her in the grass, I knew I had to take her home. She’s just a beautiful dog. She took my heart.”
DiPreta brought Georgia, who is believed to be a one-year-old boxer-lab mix, to a veterinarian near his university, where she was tested for diseases, given x-rays and dewormed. The x-rays revealed that the puppy’s right femur was broken, but the break was too high for a cast. One day into having the puppy, DiPreta set up a GoFundMe page on Dec. 15 to pay for the surgeries Georgia would need to fix her broken femur. The page’s goal of $4,000 was exceeded in just two days by more than 100 people.
“I couldn’t afford to be dropping thousands of dollars,” said DiPreta. “I put together the GoFundMe and sent it out to family and friends and put it up on Instagram. Unbelievable support started pouring in. To see all these people sending their support, it blew me away.”
DiPreta housed Georgia in his dorm room until driving up to his hometown of Port Washington, where he immediately took Georgia to North Shore Animal League America on Dec. 19. The veterinarians believed it was just the broken femur, but once they got Georgia into surgery, the veterinarians found that Georgia’s hip bone ball had shattered.
DiPreta explained that the veterinarians had performed a femoral head ostectomy (FHO), which removed the head and neck from the femur.
“Dr. [Mark] Verdino actually didn’t charge for the second surgery, the FHO,” said DiPreta, who explained his family will be keeping her. “He was incredible and helpful to do the whole surgery for free after the first. I’m so thankful to the entire organization.”