Girl sacrifices car to save hurt dog

Jessie Earhart, 15, plays with her new dog Lilly in her Huntington County home.
Jessie Earhart, 15, plays with her new dog Lilly in her Huntington County home.

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) – A Huntington teen is being called a hero after she gave up her dream of buying a car to save a hurt dog’s life. But Jessie Earhart says it’s the dog that gave her life new meaning.

The 15 year old found the dog she now calls ‘Lilly’ on the side of Rangeline Road in Huntington County. Jessie was in a car with her mother when she saw the dog running from a Huntington County animal control officer. Jessie said Lilly had a deep gash across her face, her her left eye was closed shut, and blood was running down her face.

“She was running kind of sideways,” said Jessie “She looked like she was injured.”

That’s when Jessie jumped out of the car, kneeled down, and opened her arms.

“She just came right over and collapsed in my lap and shoved her nose right in the crook of my arm and was like ‘Help me,’” remembered Jessie.

So that’s exactly what Jessie did. She sat with Lilly and comforted the one year old dog until Huntington County animal control officers were able to bring a dog pen to take her away.

“Probably, somebody didn’t want her anymore. Dropped her off in the country somewhere,” said Jenelle Conley, a registered veterinarian technician at Riverside Veterinary Clinic. She believes Lilly’s owner abandoned her, because they couldn’t afford to take care of her. She also thinks someone hit Lilly in the face with an axe or a hatchet in an effort to shoo her away. Animal control officer Lori VanOver said the shelter sees abandoned and injured animals all the time, because people can’t afford to take care of them anymore.

Without an owner and suffering severe injuries, Lilly would have been put down.

But Jessie insisted on rescuing her. She begged the shelter to let her adopt Lilly. She even called one of the Huntington County commissioners to intervene. But once Jessie, her family, and friends set up a Facebook page in support of Lilly’s rescue and caught the attention of lots of other residents, she finally got her wish.

Jessie offered to pay nearly $400 in medical bills with money she was saving for a car. She said it was a no brainer.

“I felt she needed it more and I could wait another year to get a car.”

Life is good for Lilly now. She has a family and lots of furry friends in the form of the Earhart family pets. But there’s another part to this story: Lilly now has a chance to return the favor.

A year and a half ago, Jessie got sick. An overactive lymph node pushed one side of her hip out of its socket. It’s why she limps when she walks. Jessie said Lilly keeps her active and gives her a new meaning to life.

“She just helps me, I guess, forget about my hip when I’m playing with her,” said Jessie. “I’ve been depending on so many people for my own health, it was good to have something to depend on me.”

The icing on the cake was that, Thursday, Jessie found out an anonymous donor was going to pay for all of Lilly’s medical expenses. Jessie responded by promising to give all the donations she’d received for Lilly, to the Riverside Veterinary Clinic so that it may be able to help other animals.

VanOver reminds pet owners to turn in their animals to the local shelter if they do not want them anymore.

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