The young pup who fractured her spine inspires an outpouring of support

By Karen J. Quan
November 12, 2009 09:13 PM

She had only been at her forever home for two weeks, but Kaya was already one of the family. She enjoyed playtime with her canine sister Belli, morning snuggles with Mom and Dad and even hit the beach for the first time over the weekend. But the bonding came to an abrupt end Monday morning when a fire ripped through the Long Beach, Calif., apartment of Shannon McAllen and Daniel Williams, and the couple are now mourning their 1-year-old German shepherd.

“Kaya was definitely the most loving dog,” McAllen tells with “All she wanted was our love and all she gave us was her love.”

While 2-year-old Rottweiler Belli ran through a door onto the fire escape and suffered only smoke inhalation, Kaya fled the flames by breaking through a window screen. She jumped from the third-floor apartment, and suffered a spinal fracture in the fall. At Parkview Pet Hospital, doctors determined the young dog needed to see a neurologist, but her owners couldn’t afford the care after losing their home. That’s when the help started pouring in.

Hospital manager Soma Roa-Karnes worked with the Animal Assistance League of Orange County to raise funds for Kaya’s care. Overnight, the non-profit group had pooled enough money for a visit on Nov. 10 with Dr. Wayne Berry at the Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital. Yet even as McAllen and Williams stayed optimistic and imagined the day they could bring their girl home, Kaya’s injuries were just too severe.

Dr. Berry told them that a pre-existing congenital deformity of Kaya’s spine, coupled with the fracture, left little hope for a normal life. McAllen and Williams made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

“Belli can tell something’s wrong,” says McAllen, who is staying temporarily in a studio apartment below their former home. “She misses Kaya and she knows that we’re upset. But she gives encouragement to everyone and makes us feel better.”

As of Nov. 11, the AALOC had successfully collected more than $1,800 thanks to the generous contributions from the community, which will cover all medical expenses for both Kaya and Belli. And the kindness hasn’t stopped there: Parkview Pet Hospital’s next-door neighbor, Blue Dog Tavern, got wind of the devastating news, and collected a pool of their own for Kaya’s cause.

“They’ve been amazing,” says McAllen, of the incredible outpouring of support. “You can tell everyone cares.” Leave your condolences for Kaya’s family below in our comments.