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‘It’s very humbling’: Salmon Arm woman grateful after dog receives needed surgery

Rita Beraro receives support from people she once helped
Rita Beraro and Otto hang out together in Beraro’s living room where she’s set up a safe place for her dog to recover after having undergone surgery. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Recent leg surgery hasn’t put much of a damper on Otto’s friendly puppy personality.

Salmon Arm resident Rita Beraro has transformed her living room into a safe enclosure, where her five-month old French bulldog can continue engaging in some of his puppy pastimes, such as chewing on toys and greeting visitors with friendly licks, while he heals.

Otto underwent surgery on Wednesday, June 28. The week prior, Otto had an accident in which he sustained a significant Y fracture to his front right leg. Beraro immediately took the dog to a veterinary clinic where, after an assessment, she was given four options: surgery to repair the leg, amputation, giving Otto up to the SPCA or having him put down. For Beraro, there was only one option: surgery.

To help fund the $7,800 cost, Beraro’s son, Taylor Schley, set up a Gofundme page for Rita and Otto, and helped get the word out about the needed surgery. Support quickly began coming in from family, friends, acquaintances and others.

“I am overwhelmed, I am grateful, I was so pleased with Salmon Arm as a community, people who support each other and dog lovers alike,” said Beraro. “I’ve been in this community since 1976. I worked with youth at risk the entire time I lived in Salmon Arm, until I retired. Some were among the donors.”

Schley was optimistic the community would respond as it did, given all his mother has done for youth in the community.

While the public could see and follow the fundraising effort on the Gofundme page, Schley said more happened behind the scenes. As an example, Schley said he was asked by a friend at Braby Motors, Jason Schubert, to stop by. Schley did and Schubert gave him $100 for Rita and Otto. Schley said it was given as an anonymous donation, but he wound up publicly thanking Braby Motors and Schubert.

Beraro said another donation of $1,000 was received from a local lawyer.

“Lawyers often get a bad rap,” said Beraro. “This one is often generous to a fault, in the kindest sort of way. I don’t know if he would want to be known publicly for this charitable gesture so I won’t name him, just thank him publicly for his kindness.”

READ MORE: Community steps up for longtime Salmon Arm woman with dog in need of surgery

READ MORE: Salmon Arm businesses surprise local family known for their generosity

Schley said a former employer, Doug Mackenzie of Options Okanagan Treatment Center, is putting $500 towards post-op care.

“People are so kind and caring. I love this community,” said Beraro, crediting Schley for seeking the help she was reluctant to ask for herself.

“I think what was most important for me was setting up something where my mom could benefit, where my mom could get back, because… she’s given so much and will be the last person to take from anyone. But she was forced to accept it,” said Schley.

“It’s very humbling,” replied Beraro. “It’s personal growth to allow people to bless me. That’s something I learned from an Indigenous man, he said accept it. If you don’t accept it you’re taking away their blessing.”
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