09/18/2013 06:31 am ET

Would You Give Money To Help Save A Stranger's Pet?

Ann Brenoff

Ray Richmond, who we've written about before, shared this story with us:

Last November, he said, he and his wife got some bad news about their Cavalier Spaniel mix, Travis. Travis had a spinal injury and might need surgery, the vet told them. A "well-kept older lady" was in the waiting room and overheard the conversation that he and his wife were having with their vet, said Richmond, but he paid her no mind.Their much-beloved Travis was in extreme pain and "I was hanging on to every word the vet said," said Richmond. "It could possibly be treated with steroids but if those didn't work, surgery would be necessary to save the dog's life."

His wife, Jill Holden, remembers the day vividly as well. She says she was clearly distressed while talking to the doctor and at one point asked how much the operation would cost. "Around $7,000," she was told.

Says Holden, "I guess I gasped and expressed my tearful fear that we could never afford that." Both upset and Holden still crying, they left Travis at the animal hospital hooked up to an IV and went home to hope for the best.

"We were devastated," remembers Richmond. "We needed to mull over our options. I know we would have found a way to pay for it, but man, hearing this was just such a punch to the gut."

The next day, they got a call from the vet with news that stunned them: The woman who had been in the waiting room and who had overheard their discussion had stepped up and volunteered to pay for the operation. She wanted to remain anonymous, but she was willing to pay the entire bill for Travis' surgery if he wound up needing it.

A stranger, who didn't even want her name known so she could be thanked, would do this for them. The very idea of it left Richmond and Holden speechless. "Her offer was so staggeringly generous," Richmond said. "Mind you, this is a stranger -- a total stranger -- who doesn't know us from Adam. She saw our pain and wanted to help."

Richmond says the offer was a watershed moment in his life. Travis wound up not needing the surgery, but the woman's offer has served as a guiding principle for him and his wife ever since.

This is excerpted from Holden's post on Facebook last Nov. 23:

"... a "woman of means" who loves animals overheard our conversation and offered to pay for Travis's operation. Of course we'd never let her (not as long as credit cards exist) but I am just so moved. She demanded to be anonymous but I want to thank her here in the Facebook Ethos. I am determined to Pay It Forward as much as I possibly can."

Richmond noted that of late, many people have turned to group funding sources -- basically asking strangers to help them pay for things. We have noticed more appeals on Facebook for financial help -- donations of any size -- to help rescue dogs from shelters or to assist with a dog's medical treatment. It's hard to know the genuine and worthy cases from the scams.

"All I know is that a good-hearted, well-heeled humanitarian came out of the woodwork to offer to help us," said Richmond. "It makes me want to do the same."

So readers, what do you think? Would you give money to help a stranger's pet?



8 Things That Make Or Break Your Happiness: AARP Survey