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After tragedy, Cayuga County couple starts fund for dog emergencies

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Kathryn Walter, left, and Josh Patti with their dogs Saddie, left, and Buddy in Union Springs.

Kathryn Walter and Josh Patti knew they did all they could.

The Union Springs couple lost their yellow Lab, Milly, at the age of just 16 months last May. She died of sudden liver failure.

Walter and Patti tried everything to save her, Walter told The Citizen, tallying several thousand dollars in treatments at an emergency veterinary clinic in Rochester.

Luckily, they got financial help from their parents to pay for the treatments. But as they reflected on losing Milly, they wondered how they would have reacted if they didn't have that help.

"What do people do when they're offered, 'We can try this for $10,000, or we can put your dog down for $300?'" Walter said.

That reflection led Walter and Patti to start Milly's Mission, a fund for dog owners facing the high costs of emergency treatments without the help they had. Started through the nonprofit Rochester Hope for Pets, the fund has already provided help for two dogs, Walter said. One needed a cesarean section, and the other, a 9-week-old Auburn dog named Cutie, needed surgery for a heart defect.

When starting the fund, Walter and her fiancé were asked by Rochester Hope for Pets whether they want to help dogs that have a low probability of surviving. "Absolutely," they responded.

"Milly wouldn't have qualified. But we wanted to try everything to help her, and have that peace of mind that we did," Walter said.

"That's really what we want to do for others. We want to give them the same opportunity to have that peace of mind."

The Milly's Mission fund grew through support from friends and family, Walter said. It will also be supported by an event later this summer, Trucks for Pups Truck Show on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius. Along with trucks, the event will feature live music by Perform 4 Purpose, The Healers and Major Keys, 50/50 raffles, face painting and chicken by Mooney's BBQ.

Walter and Patti, who owns Pine Ridge Trucking, hope to make the event annual. It will become a main source of support for Milly's Mission, Walter said, which has been receiving multiple applications every day. The couple doesn't want to have to turn anyone down, and deny them the help that's been crucial to Walter and Patti as they cope with the loss of Milly.

"We're much better about it now because of Milly's Mission. That's why it means so much to us," she said. "It helps when you feel like you're helping others."

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.


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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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