Lifestyle & Human Interest

Owner Breaks Down in Tears Recounting Moment Vet Used Own Funds To Save Her Dog's Life


Every pet owner knows that disaster can strike at any moment. Despite the precautions we take, the gates we put up, the food we lock away, pets find a way to get themselves into sticky situations every single day.

Disaster struck the Abbate-Cavallo household when they least expected it.

Diane Abbate-Cavallo broke down in tears as she spoke of the events that occurred that day, which both haunt and amaze her.

When Abbate-Cavallo woke up that morning, she was thinking about her upcoming knee surgery scheduled to take place just hours later.

She had no idea what else that dark day would hold. The family’s beloved 5-year-old Doberman named A.J. would soon be rushed into emergency surgery.

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The dog had gotten into things before. It was common for him, and it’s common for most dogs. Couches had been no match for A.J. in the past. Every foreign object he ingested was passed and A.J. continued his occasional reign of terror among household objects.

But the day of Abbate-Cavallo’s knee surgery was different. It was the day A.J. ate a bed sheet and all hell broke loose.

The family knew what had happened after finding the tattered remains and took him into Daisy Mountain Veterinary Hospital.

Despite the vets’ best efforts at removing the sheet, they knew surgery was A.J.’s only option.

That’s when Dr. Millman, who Abbate-Cavallo calls her “angel,” arrived.

Dr. Millman and her colleague Dr. Young had been operating on A.J.’s intestines for four hours when reality hit. Despite their superb surgical skills, the sheet that A.J. ate left his intestines so mangled, they could not undo the mess.

A.J. needed a board-certified specialist and fast.

After getting the OK from A.J.’s owners, the pair sewed the dog’s stomach shut, loaded A.J. up into their own vehicle and rushed him nearly 40 minutes to an emergency room located in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Diane’s husband and son met the vets at the emergency room. After handing the dog over, Dr. Millman headed home.

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But soon, they received more shocking news: A.J. would not be taken into surgery until a large deposit was paid up front.

Simply put, the family did not have that kind of money. It was late on a Saturday evening, and there was nothing left to do. It seemed A.J.’s time had finally run out.

“We were willing to take it out of my husband’s retirement plan but you can’t get access to that money at that time of night. We were angry. We were upset,” Abbate-Cavallo said to Liftable, a section of The Western Journal.

That’s when Dr. Millman decided to do the unthinkable.

When she received word of the delay, she handed over her credit card information and paid the entire amount, not knowing if she would ever see a dime of it again.

Thanks to her tremendous act of kindness and generosity, A.J. has made a complete recovery.

“If somehow I never get paid, it won’t ruin my life. But he will die. This dog will die without this. I had this feeling of ‘here’s one I can help’ and we did. I have to say, Diane has already returned the funds.”

Dr. Millman’s kindness did not stop there. After the dog’s surgery, she made sure to follow up. Even while she was on vacation, Dr. Millman called Abbate-Cavallo to check up on A.J. and later made home visits free of charge.

This “chapter,” as Dr. Millman calls it, in her life has inspired her to speak on the importance of pet insurance and encourage her patients’ owners to sign up as soon as they can.

According to Dr. Millman, pet insurance can benefit every pet owner greatly.

‘You know, it just happens when you’re least expecting it.’

With an appropriate pet insurance plan in place, you don’t have to make the decision to prematurely end your pet’s life due to a financial hold-up.

“If you have some pet insurance in place that’s good and perhaps some kind of a plan for accessing funds God forbid you should need to because the Instant Express Access is not in place in a widespread way yet.”

There are countless different plans and with a little research, you can find a great plan that fits your budget and your pet’s needs.

If you aren’t sure where to start, try visiting or Both websites offer reviews as well as average prices and free quotes!

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