FRANKFORT, Maine — When Molly the missing black Labrador limped out of the woods and into Elizabeth Johnson’s arms earlier this month, it cheered the hearts of many who had rooted for her survival.
The dog had been a passenger and run away in the hubbub following a fatal Nov. 8 car accident on Route 1A in Prospect. Susan and Powell Johnson, her owners, both were injured in the crash and William Dunham, 79, of Frankfort, was killed.
Molly was missing for a week, and was so happy to see the Johnson’s 20-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, she wagged her tail “100 miles a second.”
She’s still a happy dog, the college student, said. But the same can’t be said for the young woman, who is struggling with paying for the dog’s extensive veterinary bills because her parents are not able to right now.
Molly’s radius and ulna were broken and she has floating bone fragments — probably because she was walking on the broken leg in the woods for a week.
“Molly doesn’t know that her surgery is going to cost a lot of money, so she’s in great spirits right now,” Elizabeth Johnson said earlier this week. “She is so happy. I’ve never seen a happier dog in my life.”
Although Johnson initially had been told that Molly needed a surgical procedure on her leg that would cost a few thousand dollars or face an amputation, that estimate went down sharply Thursday, according to Laurie Howarth, a veterinarian who owns Medomak Veterinary Services in Waldoboro.
Howarth said she had received information from the specialist who evaluated Molly. Instead of the surgery, the first step will be to see if the family pet’s injured leg will heal with a splint. In six weeks, Molly will be X-rayed again and her recovery will be re-evaluated.
“If it’s not healing, do we do something surgical? Do we amputate?” the veterinarian asked.
If they get lucky, the leg will heal with just the splints. But even then, with the costs of the sedation, the X-rays and being resplinted, Molly’s bills could easily run from $600 to $1,000, Howarth said.
“[Johnson] has a legitimate problem that she does not have the money to help this dog,” the veterinarian said. “She’s trying to be responsible for it, because the original owners are not able to be responsible after being in the accident.”
Johnson, who also works part time while being a full-time college student, has started a fund for Molly’s medical bills and is hoping some of the people touched by Molly’s story might give a little money. Even a dollar could make a difference, she said Wednesday.
“I know it’s tough — with the holidays and the recession, people are trying to pinch every penny,” she said. “But with my parents not being able to work at the present time, it’s been tough. I’m just hoping for the best.
“Every situation is unique, but situations like this are emergency situations. Nobody has the money laying around for it. I’m hoping a lot of people can empathize.”
To help the fund for Molly’s medical bills, visit http://mollyslegsurgery.chipin.com/mollys-leg-surgery
An earlier version of this story contained an error. The fatal Nov. 8 car accident on Route 1A happened in Prospect, not Frankfort.