A Dog's Life: Priceless

If a dog is man's best friend, then how far would you go for your friendship?

Would you spend thousands of dollars on it? Would you go broke for it? Would you sell your house if you needed to? Well, that's the decision Michael and Kim Hutcherson faced after their dog Kai was hit by a car last fall.

At first doctors did not think she would survive but three surgeries later, Kai is home recovering.

Now, the medical bills have piled up and the Hutchersons have to sell their home so that they can pay the $10,000 veterinary tab.

Kai is a 4-year-old blue heeler dog, who escaped through a small section of her fenced in yard on Oct. 23, 2003. While in the street, she was hit by a hit-and-run driver. Her skin was ripped off from her belly to her back but had no broken bones. She managed to sneak into the basement of a house, where the owners found her, close to death, and called animal control. She was taken to Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital in Denver, where a team of doctors worked to save her life.

The Hutchersons don't have any children and say their dogs are like their children.

Kim tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, "She's my child. She's my baby. I got her when she was five weeks old. And I raised her and she is like a child to me. We don't have children."

The couple doesn't have a lot of money. Kim, 33, is a student studying criminalistics, and is a part time bartender and 32-year-old Michael is working in security at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Kim notes, "With the economy right now, things haven't been great over the past year. And this pretty much tops it off. It was about all we could handle here."

In the beginning, doctors told the Hutchersons that it would cost $1,100 for the first week and a half to keep Kai alive. One surgery led to another and three surgeries later, the medical bills have added up to $10,000.

While the animal hospital has them on a $500-a-month payment plan (it now costs $25 a day for Kai's care), and the hospital has helped them with charitable gifts, the Hutchersons are scraping by and have to sell their house to pay Kai's medical costs.

Michael points out it that never crossed his mind to put Kai down. He says, "It was really never an option and I would definitely do it again with any of my other dogs, with Katie (Kai's sister) or Kai or our Cobi, our other dog, that we have. I would still do the same thing."

Asked what Kai means to him, he says, "She's kind of the life of the house. Makes you kind of smile when you've had a bad day or whatever. Kind of completes everybody in the house."

They hope to sell the house for $257,000, which will give them $30-$35,000. They then plan on moving to Florida where, the cost of living is much cheaper.

If you would like to help, please call: 303-722-2100 and say you want to donate to Kai Hutcherson.