SIDNEY — After a frantic fundraising drive, a family dog whose front legs were broken in what his owners initially believed was a hit-and-run accident had surgery Wednesday, and his owners hope he’ll be home for Christmas.

The Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that the driver of the car that struck Diesel, a 90-pound mixed-breed, on Monday did not drive up onto the family’s Middle Road yard to run the dog over, as the dog’s owners believed. The driver told authorities that he swerved to avoid the dog after it had run into the road.

Diesel’s owners Tuesday were considering having 3-year-old Diesel euthanized because of his injuries. The family said they couldn’t afford the expensive surgery their dog needed.

But by Wednesday afternoon donors had raised $3,700, enough to pay for the surgery, Bechard said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Diesel’s owner, Gerry Bechard, said he was waiting to hear an update on the dog’s condition, but it looked like it would pull through surgery. The veterinarians had to put metal plates and pins in Diesel’s legs to repair the damage, Bechard said.

“From their standpoint it looked good,” Bechard said. “It will take him a while to get back to normal, but he should be able to be mobile on his front legs in a couple of days.”

Diesel was struck just after dark Monday afternoon in front of the Bechard’s home. The family initially believed a car had driven onto the lawn to run over the dog, but in a press release Wednesday afternoon, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said there “was no evidence to support the claim of the dog’s owner.”

The driver, Matthew Ruel, of Sidney, said he swerved to avoid the dog, according to the sheriff’s office. The department has no plans to charge Ruel, according to the release.

Capt. Chris Cowan of the sheriff’s office said Wednesday afternoon that Ruel got out of his vehicle to look for Diesel, but didn’t see him in the dark.

“He wasn’t even sure he’d hit an animal,” Cowan said. “He made a good-faith effort to check.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Bechard and his family were trying to decide whether to try to raise the money to fix Diesel’s front legs or euthanize him. They had less than 24 hours to make the decision.

On Tuesday night, a fundraiser, “Help save Diesel’s life,” was posted on gofundme.com. By Wednesday late afternoon, the page had raised more than $3,800 of its $5,000 goal. Gofundme takes a percentage of donations made on its site, so the Bechards will receive will be less than the total raised.

“It looks a lot better now than it did 24 hours ago,” Bechard said Wednesday afternoon. “Then, maybe we had enough money to pay for the X-rays, but not enough for the surgery.”

Reg and Julia Perry, of Clinton, also set up a checking account, “Donations for Diesel,” at Key Bank in Waterville Wednesday morning to help Gerry Bechard and his family pay the vet bills. Like many others, the Perrys are animal lovers – they have two West Highland terriers – and empathized with Diesel’s owners.

“I almost cried I felt so bad for those people and that dog,” Julia Perry said Wednesday.

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

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