Selfless Boy Sells Treasured Pokémon Cards to Help Save Lab Puppy Sick With Parvo
This isn't just a story about a boy and his dog. This is a story about how the deep love between a boy and his dog moves hundreds of people to take action.
Earlier this spring, Kimberly and Tyler Woodruff of Lebanon, Va., brought home their first family puppy, Bruce, a 4-month-old Labrador retriever mix. They have three children, so Bruce was definitely everyone's new furry best friend! But their oldest son, Bryson Kliemann, was especially smitten with the pup's energy and playful personality.
Bruce received all his vital early puppydom vaccinations, including for the highly contagious disease, parvovirus, or parvo. So when he was suddenly lethargic and started losing weight, the family became concerned, then surprised, when a veterinarian diagnosed him with this inflammatory intestinal condition. Left untreated, it can be lethal, so the only recourse was for Bruce to be hospitalized.
Emergency vet care is costly. Bruce initially needed to be in the hospital for about three days, quoted at nearly $700, Kimberly Woodruff says in a Daily Paws interview. But because his parvo case was so advanced, he'd likely have to stay longer and require additional treatment to make a full recovery. Suddenly, Bruce's total care was moving into the thousands. With only one working parent and the other in school, finances are tight.
"We've had ferrets and rabbits before, but this was our first dog," Woodruff says. "We had no idea how much one illness might cost."
When 8-year-old Bryson overheard his parents talking about mounting veterinary bills, he didn't hesitate to take action. This is the message he shared with his classmates the next morning, asking for help for his beloved pup.
Bryson positively loves Pokémon cards, and has quite a prized collection. But he decided to sell them all to raise money for Bruce's care. Shortly after Bryson returned home from school that day-unbeknownst to his parents-he set up this kiosk in their yard.
Here! Take our tissues! We insist!
Woodruff tells Daily Paws that Bryson has collected Pokémon cards since he was 4 years old, and they were all he ever asked for as gifts. When her husband sent this photo to her, she said she broke down and cried. "It doesn't surprise me that he'd do something like this, because he's such a sweet boy and loves to help people. But they're his belongings," she says. "I'm his mom. I'm supposed to take care of the important stuff that he shouldn't have to worry about."
Neighbors in Lebanon stopped by Bryson's stand to buy a few at $5 or $10, depending on the cards' trading value. However, more often than not, they simply put a few dollars in Bryson's money jar without taking anything in return. In only two days, he'd raised $400!
In fact, this boy with a heart of gold inspired a wave of community support. Fellow collectors shared their Pokémon cards to replenish his stash, other people dropped off dog food and additional supplies, and a brewery even hosted a special "Brews for Bruce" event to raise more money.
And as a special thank-you to Bryson for his efforts, an employee from the Pokémon Co. in Seattle sent a package of rare cards to add to his collection.
Woodruff was encouraged to start a GoFundMe page because so many people were moved by Bryson's selfless efforts and wanted to help. With just a modest goal of $800, pet lovers all over the world donated more than $7,500! Not only did the generous funds pay for all of Bruce's extensive treatment, but also allowed the family to support other sick pets in Southwest Virginia with a "pay it forward" approach: covering bills for other people who can't afford vet care and donating to local animal shelters.
"We feel so blessed-and a bit overwhelmed!-by all the attention from around the world," Woodruff says. "So it's the least we can do to help other families with their pets." Continued donations of Pokémon toys and cards, as well as more pet supplies, have poured in, too. So much so, Woodruff opened a P.O. box to handle the overflow. She says although she's felt like a chicken with her head cut off these past few weeks, she's eternally grateful.
"It gives me hope for humanity that so many people are touched by Bryson and his actions," she says.
And what about Bruce? Why, he's just fine! Back to full weight and bright-eyed, with a shiny coat and full of his usual bounce, he knows he's one lucky pup to have a boy who will go to any lengths to assure he has his best life.