Officer Kevin Branscum said he was not prepared for the news that a donation from singer Carrie Underwood would help save his K-9 partner, reports the Muskogee Phoenix.
Branscum is a K-9 narcotics investigation officer for the McIntosh County (Okla.) Sheriff's Department, and Gino is his track, apprehension, and narcotics detection dog.
What started as a simple surgery for the German shepherd quickly turned into something more serious. While prepping for surgery to treat an ear hematoma, doctors found that Gino had contracted heartworms from a mosquito during the summer. Gino needs costly medications to treat the heartworms before he can undergo surgery for his ear.
The total cost for the heartworm procedure is almost $2,000, and each vet visit for Gino is $100. Branscum said he will have spent around $4,000 from December until now. And treatments won't be done until May.
When animal rescuer Bernita Rittenhouse heard about Gino, she was able to get a message to Underwood, who donated an autographed guitar to be auctioned off as a fundraiser. The singer hails from Checotah, Okla., where Branscum and Gino live.
"I'm grateful," Branscum said." There's really no words for it. It's awesome. Being that she's from around here makes it even that much more special. I was definitely surprised."
Because Gino is privately owned, the sheriff's department cannot help with Gino's mounting medical bills. But the community has heard Gino's story and has also reached out to Branscum to help in any way they can.