WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A New Zealand teenager faced legal action after he stole his own injured puppy from a clinic to save it from euthanasia when the family couldn't afford expensive surgery after it was hit by a car.
The story appears headed for a happy ending, however. The public rallied to the plight of Bronson Stewart and 5-month-old puppy Buck on Wednesday, raising money to save the dog by paying the bill, local media reported.
After Buck was hit by a car two weeks ago, neither Stewart, 19, nor his father Kevin could afford the 2,500 New Zealand dollars ($1,730) for the puppy's broken leg to be pinned back together or the $555 for the leg to be amputated.
The family, which lives on welfare in the North Island city of Wanganui, instead offered to pay the veterinary clinic $3.50 a week, but the clinic declined.
The veterinarian then refused to return the pup, saying it was best the little dog be euthanized, because he was in agony.
"I just knew I had to get my dog back. He's like my brother," Stewart told TV One's "Closeup" program Wednesday. "They can't just kill him because I haven't got any money."
Stewart went to the veterinary clinic last Friday and asked to see Buck, grabbed the little dog and ran home.
New Zealand's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) then threatened the teenager with prosecution for cruelty to an animal unless he got veterinary care for the dog, which was suffering considerable pain.
A determined Stewart said he would rather be put behind bars than see his dog put down. "I'll go to jail for my dog," he told TV One.
After the story was publicized, local people rallied to Buck's aid.
Wanganui SPCA manager Val Waters told New Zealand Press Association that people had donated $624 to save Buck and the office had fielded "hundreds" of calls from people offering further donations.
That should be enough to pay for the surgery to repair Buck's leg, according to Waters.
"The dog will be just fine," Waters said.