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A helping paw: Nonprofit raising funds to pay for homeless pet's surgery

Kuda is 13 years old, looks like a golden retriever and is the service animal for Sharon Schroer, a 30-year-old homeless woman in Ashland.

The dog has a major problem: an enlarged spleen, thought to be cancerous. He is set for surgery this Thursday with Dr. Glen Winters of Phoenix Animal Hospital. However, the procedure costs $1,156.

To the rescue has come Maria Modica, founder of the nonprofit Tail Waggers Rescue, an organization that fundraises for high-end dog food and supplies, tick-flea prevention collars, dog coats, dog sleeping bags and spay-neuter and other medical help for dogs who live on the street.

Her goal is to raise $1,500 over the next several days to cover the vet bills and a motel stay of a few nights for Schroer and Kuda.

“Kuda is my best friend. He’s all I’ve had for the last 13 years,” says Schroer, between sobs. “He’s strong and always happy. He keeps me going. It’s amazing that this might happen. I can’t explain in words how grateful I am.”

Modica, a Grants Pass resident, does her dog-rescue work around the whole Rogue Valley, and raises money using an email list, but much of it is raised because “I beg for it.”

She adds, “We’re crossing our fingers and paws that his spleen doesn’t rupture before Thursday. We’re asking the community to help save his life.”

Comparing notes, Schroer says she raised $67 on Thursday, playing her guitar and singing in front of the Varsity Theatre, while Modica raised $100 and is getting another $100 today from a girlfriend.

Working out of the back of her SUV at Ashland Creek Park, Modica pours high-grade dog food into a bag for a homeless man and woman — and hands out a waterproof dog-water bowl. She notes, “The high end food is extremely healthy. I’ve seen it clear up skin issues fast. It makes a big difference in (the dogs) energy, overall well-being and immune system.”

Pets of homeless people might not be in the top tier of society’s problems, but Schroer, who is battling cancer herself, says, “These animals have no choice but to live with humans. They help the homeless by comforting their anxiety. These dogs who live on the street are just as valuable as those in a home.”

Past health issues taken care by Tail Waggers Rescue include a broken leg, broken jaw, salmon poisoning and parvovirus, said Modica.

Donations may be made at Paypal or tailwaggersrescue.org or by contacting Modica by phone at 541-362-1663 or email at maria@tailwaggersrescue.org.

— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Andy Atkinson / Daily Tidings Maria Modica gives a homeless man some fresh dog food at the Ashland Creek Park Friday.
Andy Atkinson / Daily Tidings Sharon Schroer and her dog Kuda in Ashland at Ashland Creek Park.