Florida veterinarian give dog free surgery

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PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (AP) — It was a Christmas miracle for the South Florida owners of a 4-year-old dachshund.

Earlier in the week, they thought they'd never see Lola. In fact, Sumey and David Hageman of Pembroke Pines made the heartbreaking decision to give Lola to an animal rescue group after realizing they couldn't afford a $6,000 surgery to repair a slipped disc that was preventing her from walking.

That's where Kendall veterinarian Michael Wong stepped in.

The Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/1B6OL9C ) reports Wong cooked up the surprise after hearing about the Hagemans' plight. He often works with the rescue group and knows that once someone gives up a dog, they lose rights to visit.

When he heard their reason was financial, he asked if he could give Lola back to the family after the surgery. The group agreed.

"I was doing the surgery, and it came to me," Wong said. "I wanted to give them their dog back."

On Christmas Eve, Sumey Hageman showed up at the Southeast Veterinary Neurology thinking she'd be able to visit Lola one last time. She didn't know that Dr. Wong had reached out to her husband with his plan.

When Wong gave her the news, she couldn't hold back the tears.

"This is the best Christmas gift I could have gotten," she said. She and her husband have had the dog since she was 5 weeks old. But having a 2-year-old son and having just bought a house, they just could not pay for Lola's surgery.

Sumey Hageman says giving Lola up was "the hardest decision" she's ever made. She said she had put away Lola's stocking and favorite frog toy.

Seeing her reaction let Wong know he'd done the right thing.

"I can't imagine having to make that kind of decision," he said.

David Hageman summed it up. "Basically it's like having your whole family back together for Christmas," he said. "It's amazing.

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