A disabled homeless man is looking to raise money to pay for medical treatment for his dog after both of them were injured in an accident earlier this month.
Richard Powell, 60, said he needs at least $1,000 after he and his 4-year-old bichon, Marley, were hit by a car when they were legally crossing Panama Lane where vehicles on southbound Highway 99 exit to get onto the street.
Powell allegedly sustained minor injuries while he said his dog was partially ran over by a car on April 9, causing major injuries.
“I heard her yelp and saw her under a wheel,” he said.
Bakersfield police confirmed the accident.
Around 6:49 p.m., Powell and his dog were knocked out of his wheelchair after the driver allegedly failed to see Powell cross as the driver attempted to make a right turn onto Panama Lane, according to Bakersfield police.
There were "complaints of pain" from Powell at the scene and that he wasn’t treated at a hospital, said Public Information Officer Nathan McCauley. However, the department has no record of the dog being injured, McCauley added.
Powell claimed the driver of the vehicle who hit them initially offered to pay for medical treatment but never followed through and has since denied accountability in the accident.
Powell and his friend Shawn Stokes attempted to get the driver’s insurance company, Geico, to pay for treatment but claim they were told that the driver was not at fault in the accident and, therefore, there would be no payout for the accident.
McCauley said the BPD doesn’t determine fault in situations like this unless there is a clear criminal violation, which wasn’t the case in this instance. These types of situations are usually dealt with in civil court or by insurance companies, he said.
After the accident, Powell and Stokes tried to take Marley to a local veterinarian for treatment. However, Stokes said they weren’t able to afford to pay money up front, as both he and Powell are homeless.
To help raise money for vet costs, Stokes created a fundraising page on Facebook in hopes that it could help collect the donations needed to fix Marley. Stokes said all proceeds will go to Powell and his dog.
“She’s everything (I’ve) got. She’s my life,” Powell said of Marley, who he's had for the past two years. “My dog is more important to me than me.”
Since the incident earlier this month, Powell said he has been carrying around his dog in his lap, as he said she has injured legs and hips and cannot walk very easily.
Stokes said they reached out to the Kern Humane Society to see if they could help get treatment for Marley. While the nonprofit organization initially seemed hopeful that they may be able to find a vet that could provide x-ray and treatment services on the cheap, that didn’t end up happening.
Sue Bennett, director of the organization, said x-rays alone could cost up to around $800, with hundreds more needed for actual treatment.
“Although we want to help, we can’t pay for something like that,” she said. “The Humane Society doesn’t have unlimited funds. We can’t just say ‘I’ll spend $1,500 on your dog.’”
The Society did give Powell and Stokes $200 to pay for an examination and pain pills to help make Marley more comfortable. Bennett said if money for a vet can’t be gathered soon, the most hopeful outcome is that Marley will heal in time.
“If in 10 days she doesn’t look like she’s going to recover, the only thing they can really do is euthanize,” she said.
So far, Stokes said the fundraising effort has only raised around $100, not nearly enough to fund treatment.
“It doesn’t seem like people really care or don’t believe that what we’re raising money for is really going toward treatment,” he said. “Just because we’re homeless doesn’t make us dishonest. It would be an evil thing to do to exploit people’s empathy and kindness like that.”
As things currently stand, Stokes said prospects for treatment aren’t looking good.
“Time is not on our side,” he said. “If we can’t get her treatment soon, she might have to walk with a limp for the rest of her life, and that’s the best-case scenario.”
If you would like to donate to help pay Marley's vet pills, visit the Facebook fundraising page at https://bit.ly/2GjObB2.