CERES — Maryann Martinelli was frantic as she drove home Tuesday evening with her daughter and Little Little, her 4-year-old Chihuahua.
Little Little had given birth to a puppy Monday, but a second one was stuck in the birth canal and more puppies were in the womb. One veterinary clinic had given Little Little a shot to induce labor, but it had not worked. A second clinic wanted $1,300 for a cesarean section, which Martinelli could not afford.
As Martinelli and her daughter, Melecia Cordova, drove home, they passed the American Pet Clinic in the Richland Shopping Center. Though it was late, they decided to stop. They were in luck.
Veterinarian Amanpreet Basra had just arrived to catch up on some paperwork. The women explained the problem, and Basra said he'd help.
Basra gave Little Little a shot to calm her Tuesday evening, and he and veterinarian Shokar Nirip performed a C-section Wednesday, delivering two puppies. The one in the birth canal was stillborn.
Martinelli and her family were at the clinic Wednesday afternoon to pick up Little Little and her two puppies each weighing no more than a few ounces and unite them with Midnight, the puppy born early Monday.
Basra gave Martinelli a discount on his work, charging her $600. The family put $360 down and will make payments on the balance.
"He's the one vet I can say he cares," Cordova said. "He has a heart. He's very compassionate."
Basra said he was glad he and his office could help.
"You see people come in with their dog and they are in need," he said. "If I say no and not do it, what are they going to do? You have to make a decision.
"I'm fortunate enough to help them. If I have to take a little bit of a loss that's OK as long as the dog and puppies survive."
He said he did not think Little Little and her puppies would have survived much longer without the C-section.
Martinelli, 63, said she gets by on about $900 month in Social Security and there's no way she could have paid the full price of a C-section.
"Nobody else would do it," she said. "Even though it's an animal's life, it's still a life. It's a family member. We've had this dog since birth."
This will be Little Little's last litter. Martinelli said her Chihuahua had a litter last year, which she gave to a pet store. Basra spayed Little Little.
"We saved a life and we prevented more lives in the future," he said.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.