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Vet clinic steps in to help homeless man, dog

Colorado Strong: Kindness of Strangers

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It's a bond so strong, not even a brush with death could tear them apart.

Larry Buchannon and his dog Mutley live their lives on the road.  They've been traveling from Texas through Colorado, headed to Cripple Creek.

But last week their journey took a dark turn.  While crossing the intersection of North Nevada Avenue and Las Vegas Street in Colorado Springs, a car plowed into the pair.

Buchannon was taken to a hospital and Mutley was taken to the Humane Society.  

"The Humane Society told me they were going to have to put her down if I didn't have something done by 3 o'clock," Buchannon said.  "So at about 2, I started praying."

His prayers were answered.

Mutley was taken to the Veterinary Specialty Center on North Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs.  Dr. Chris McReynolds was placed in charge of Mutley's care.

"She had a fracture of her pelvis that needed to be addressed surgically," McReynolds said.

McReynolds knew Buchannon would likely not be able to afford surgery to save Mutley's life.

"We understand how important the human-animal bond is," McReynolds said.  "We saw how well she was taken care of so we made the decision to take care of fixing Mutley."

The estimated $4,000 to $6,000 surgery and care of Mutley will likely be paid for through the organization Treasured Paws.  It assists people who can't afford care for their pets.  

"We can't do it all the time," McReynolds said.  "But certain situations where we recognize it's important, we do.  I just felt in my gut it was the right thing to do."

McReynolds said he knew the bond between Buchannon and Mutley was special when he called him after Mutley's successful surgery.

"I said, 'Larry, Mutley is doing really well. I've got her outside.' He said, 'I'm coming to see her.' I said, 'Larry, you can't even walk.' And he goes, 'I'm coming.'  I find out he's about six miles away on crutches trying to walk this way."

Buchannon choked back tears when he expressed his gratitude.

"She's my spirit dog," he said.  "She takes care of me. She lets me know when someone's around. She's my companion. She's my best friend."

The kindness doesn't stop there.  The veterinary center is letting Buchannon camp behind the clinic's parking lot while the two recover from their injuries.  Mutley will have stitches removed in a week and can't be active for another six weeks.

After that, it's back on the road.

"I'm going panning for gold," Buchannon laughed.  "I used all my savings so I'm kind of broke but I'll make it.  She's supposed to be with me.  This is proof."

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