One day in February, Omar Navarro’s Poodle was “perfect” and the next day she was panting and uncomfortable.  “It was weird because it wasn’t even hot, he said.  ‘The next day, she was doing the same thing.”

 “My mom said that this was not normal,” he said.  He decided he should call Little Tokyo Pet Clinic where he had always taken his dog when she needed care.  But the hospital had no appointments available that day.  The receptionist suggested taking her to an emergency clinic. 

Omar tried several emergency clinics but got a call a couple of hours later from the Little Tokyo hospital:  an appointment time was available.  Omar quickly took her there. 

Dr. Mary H. Chung examined Paloma and told Omar that his dog was very ill.  “She said it was bad,” he said.  “Paloma needed surgery real quick or she would get sicker.”  Dr. Chung said that the dog had suspect pyometra with mammary gland tumors, acute diabetes and pancreatitis.

Later that day, Paloma had the surgery.  Dr. Chung removed her uterus and multiple mammary masses.   She also suggested that Omar apply for an Angel Fund grant to help pay the cost of the surgery.

Omar, 28, lives with his parents and three siblings not far from Little Tokyo.  He went home and applied online for a grant of $500.  It was soon approved.  But Dr. Chung messaged the SCVMA Board of Trustees and asked for an additional grant of $500. 

“Paloma is a special girl who came to us yesterday with heavy panting and required immediate treatment, including surgery and hospitalization,” she said.  “The owner is struggling to cover costs and we’d like to help as much as possible.”  Little Tokyo Pet Clinic donated $500 and supported necessary services and medications to assist Paloma’s treatment and recovery, Dr. Chung said.

In his application, Omar said: 

“Paloma is not just any dog.  She was a special dog when I first found her when she was only a baby.  We became best friends. She means the world to me.  She follows me everywhere I go.  We have that special bond and I love her very much. I’m always taking care of her [when there is] any type of danger.  

“Now she’s sick and my heart is hurting me so much.  I’m tearing up all the time.  She needs surgery that is costing $4,800 and, if she doesn’t get it, I will lose her.  I can’t lose my best friend.  She’s my companionship.  I’m asking if you’re able to help with some funds for my best friend.  I’m trying to find money wherever I can.  I’m not working fulltime.  I’m self-employed but not making enough money.  Please help me.”

The additional $500 was approved.  Omar’s family provided the rest of the money needed for Paloma’s treatment.  When he learned he had received $1,000 from Angel Fund, Omar was grateful.  “I was happy.  I was blessed,” he said.

Omar found Paloma on the street when she was a puppy nearly 12 years ago.  Is Paloma doing well now?  “Yeah, perfect,” he said.

He works Saturdays and Sundays at a swap meet selling inserts for “Croc” sandals that provide them with a dash of color through the holes in the footwear.  “It makes them look fancy,” he said.

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