’We’d do anything to help her’: Richmond couple seeking help with dog’s $10k medical bills

’We’d do anything to help her’: Richmond couple seeking help with dog’s $10k medical bills
Lilo the dog is best known for her feature in Richmond Animal League's calendar, but now her owners are asking for help with her medical bills. (Source: Andrea Cannizzaro, @stitchlesslilo)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Lilo’s owners describe her as the type of dog that leaves an impression on everyone she meets. Now, they’re asking for help with medical procedures that brought their pup back to good health.

You may recognize Lilo as Miss January from the Richmond Animal League’s calendar. The five-year-old chug, or pug and chihuahua mix, raised more than $2,000 for animals in need during the contest.

This month, Lilo was diagnosed with intervertebral disc herniation. A neurologist said the center of the spine cracked through the outer shell, causing the liquid center to press against the dog’s nerves, which leads to a partial loss of motor functions and extreme pain.

An invasive procedure, including an incision through the neck and drilling out the growing mass, helped alleviate the pressure and lessened the dog’s pain.

“The MRI alone cost us over $3,000, forcing us to go in debt for that alone,” said Andrea Cannizzaro, Lilo’s owner. “The following procedure has cost an additional $6,000, causing us to max out credit cards, cash advances and drained our bank accounts.”

Lilo turned five years old on Dec. 16, but due to pain and medication, she wasn’t able to celebrate.

“Every year we celebrate her day, make her a homemade cake and buy her a bunch of toys,” Cannizzaro said. “This year, unfortunately, she was in an extreme amount of pain and on several pain medications prescribed by our vet. She never got to celebrate her 5th birthday.”

Lilo’s medical procedures have come during a difficult point for Cannizzaro and her boyfriend, Haris Djurdjevic, who was partially laid off due to the pandemic. With medical bills piling on, the couple is now in $10,000 of debt.

They’ve started a GoFundme in hopes of raising money for Lilo’s treatments, but in the meantime, they hope she will return to her normal, charming self.

“She was overall a very loving, cuddly, active dog and I hope and pray that I can see that side of her again,” Cannizzaro said.

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