SIDNEY — After a frantic fundraising drive a family dog whose front legs were broken in an alleged hit-and-run accident Monday afternoon underwent surgery Wednesday, and his owners hope he’ll be home for Christmas.

Meanwhile, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said the driver of the car that hit Diesel, a 90-pound mixed-breed, did not drive up onto the family’s Middle Road yard to hit him, but rather swerved to try to avoid the dog, who the driver said ran into the road.

Diesel’s owners Tuesday were considering having 3-year-old Diesel euthanized because of the injuries he suffered when he was hit Monday afternoon. The distraught family said they couldn’t afford the expensive surgery their dog needed.

That was before thousands of dollars were raised for the dog’s treatment.

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 he 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.”

Bechard said he wasn’t expecting the sudden geyser of emotional and financial support, but it has given his family the money needed to take care of the dog. By Wednesday afternoon donors had raised $3,700, enough to pay for the surgery, Bechard said.

“It’s just amazing that people have been able to raise so much money so quickly for the dog,” he said.

Diesel was hit just after dark Monday afternoon in front of the Bechard family home. The family believed a car drove onto the lawn to hit 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 did not leave the road to intentionally hit the animal and swerved to avoid the dog, which he said ran out into the road, according to the sheriff’s office. The department has no plans to charge Ruel, according to the release.

Sgt. Scott Mills, a crash reconstructionist, investigated the scene and found fresh tire tracks in the general area of the incident, but the tracks were not caused by a vehicle swerving off and back onto the road and were most likely from a vehicle that had recently left the residence, according to the release. There are no charges pending at this time.

The release said Bechard told Mills that Diesel “typically likes to sit next to a chair which is very close to the road” and stressed that “it’s important to note” no one saw the vehicle swerve onto the lawn or saw it hit the dog.

Capt. Chris Cowan of the sheriff’s office said Wednesday afternoon that while hitting someone’s animal is considered property damage, 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 make the difficult decision of whether to try to get together the money to fix Diesel’s front legs or euthanize him. They had less than 24 hours to make the decision, colored by the fact they were told treatment would be at least $3,000, and they thought recovery could take months.

The family had rescued Diesel the year before, and he soon became a happy, warm member of their family, they said.

The Morning Sentinel interviewed the family after hearing about the accident on the police scanner. Strangers who read the resulting article in print and online immediately set to work getting the money the Bechards needed to get the dog medical treatment.

On Tuesday night, a fundraiser, “Help save Diesel’s life,” was posted on 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 total the Bechards get 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 connected with what Diesel’s owners were going through.

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

She and her husband are fortunate to have a lot and they like to give back, she said. Every year they choose to help some people in the area who don’t have as much as they do.

“I was feeling the pain that poor animal was in. I wanted to do something for that family,” she said. “My heart was just breaking. I could picture one of my animals going through that.”

People who read about Diesel inundated the Morning Sentinel with calls and emails Wednesday morning for an update and information on where they could send donations. A few called the newspaper in tears.

Some said the story made them remember how difficult it can be to have a family pet die.

Lynne Veilleux, of Augusta, said her father didn’t allow her to have a dog, but when she was older she got a beagle for herself.

“I never knew until I lost her why he never let us have a dog, because it was too hard,” Veilleux said. “Our hearts are big, but they get broken.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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