OAKDALE (CBS13) – A chihuahua needs life-saving surgery to stay alive, but saving this dog named Coco will not be cheap.

Saved from a life of neglect, Coco now needs more help. Her owner, wanting to stay anonymous, says it’s not about who saved her but that Coco gets saved.

All it took was one look.

“It’s a look of help, look of desperation,” said Dr. Sergio Iniguez.

It’s a look that captured the heart of Iniguez.

“That’s the look I definitely saw, a look I can’t forget,” said Iniguez.

Who really can? Coco’s soulful eyes, her floppy ears, and friendly demeanor are among many reasons veterinarians don’t want to give up on the chihuahua mix.

“She came from neglect; this is a patient who’s had a lot of bad luck,” said Iniguez.

She was found tied up to a tree near Fiddletown, starving, dehydrated, and barely alive.

A mystery woman rescued Coco and took her in. Then, she found Coco panting for air.

Iniguez discovered a defect, one he couldn’t treat. UC Davis veterinarians took a look with their expert eyes and were stunned at the severity of a case so rare, they’ve only read about it.

“Her body oxygen levels are low, so it tries to over compensate,” said Iniguez.

That’s making her blood as thick as honey. Not so sweet, this means her tiny, defective heart has to pump even harder, and her organs could crash.

“You have to develop a degree of emotional protection. That’s what I tried to do with Coco, but something kept bothering me,” said Iniguez.

That’s when Iniguez made it his mission to save her.

“Animals know more than we give them credit for. They give you a certain look,” said Iniguez.

It’s that look again that says “just because her heart is weak, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for.”

It looks like Coco’s checkup went well. They’ve oxygenated her blood and fluids are keeping her stable for a couple months, but she only has a couple months to come up with $14,000 to get her much-needed heart saving surgery.

Olde Towne Veterinary Hospital in Oakdale is accepting donations.


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