GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5 ) -- Veterinarian Dr. Ashley Casida takes care of a lot of dogs and cats, but the past year has been especially challenging, with so many pet owners struggling to pay the bills during the current health crisis.
"I think it's hit a lot of families hard," said Dr. Ashley. "We have a lot of people come in and have a track record of doing everything for their pet, and now they come in and their pet is ill, but telling us, 'I just lost my job,' or, 'I have been out of work 6 months.' We're seeing a lot more of that."
The kind-hearted vet has made it her mission not to turn away any sick or injured animals.
A few months ago, Louise Pennartz was told her Lab, Pepper, needed emergency surgery and it would cost $1,000, money Pennartz didn't have. But Dr. Ashley performed the procedure anyway, opting to work out the financial stuff later.
"I want to say thank you, and I want other people to know about her and the clinic," said Pennartz. "They're open to help the public."
The Sun Valley Hope Animal Hospital in Glendale promotes itself as a low cost option, helping pet owners who can't always afford what their dog or cat needs.
Dr. Ashley said their services are not free, but they understand the challenges a lot of families are going through. They've even created a HOPE donation fund to collect contributions to help pet owners in need.
"Our goal is to try and keep the pet in the household, keep it in the family," said Dr. Ashley. "I don't want to separate anyone from their animal. If we can help that by treating a pet at a lower cost, and still provide quality care, we will do that."
Pennartz was so grateful for what Dr. Ashley did to save her dog, that she reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to the veterinarian and give her a $500 gift card.
A CBS 5 news crew followed along recently for the big surprise. "Knowing you for all the good you have done for all of us and knowing all you do for all your patients and all your fur babies," said Pennartz. "You're just such a compassionate person, you've sat with us when we've had to put one down and one that died."
"We thank you for all you've done," said Pennartz. "With Channel 5 and their Pay it Forward program, I'd like to give you $500."
"She's just compassionate," said Pennartz. "She's sincere and she's helped a lot of people"
For more information on how to contribute to the Animal Hospital's "Hope Fund," click HERE.