After an appeal in last week’s Hunts Post to raise money for the double hip operation required for a chronically ill 16-year-old’s assistance dog, the fund has rocketed to close on £3,500.

Sophie Perkins from Bedford Street in St Neots suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Chronic Pain Syndrome and originally got Hunter the German Shepherd to train him as an assistance dog.

However, he was diagnosed with a congenital condition known as hip dysplasia, which requires a double total hip replacement. Despite the vet at the Queen’s University of Cambridge dropping his usual consultation fees, the cost of the operation is estimated at £9,000.

The two-year-old dog is insured, but the cover doesn’t include this condition. And the family were careful to check out the dog’s parent, neither of which suffered from the condition.

Sadly if Hunter is unable to get the operation he so desperately needs, the only humane thing to do may be to have him put down.

Sophie and her mother Carolyn have been trying to raise the money for the operation, but had only collected a fraction of the funds needed. After the story appeared in the paper, though, the fund took off and is now standing at well over £3,000.

The day after the story was published, Carolyn said: “I had to wake Sophie early this morning and was a little concerned that she was awake and had been crying, until she showed me that her Just Caring page had reached over £1,200. They were tears of happiness!

“She is so excited. Even her sisters have sent her texts about how the fundraising has taken off.”

Sophie, Carolyn and Hunter have since appeared on local television news, as well as BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Carolyn is desperately trying to get Sophie back into full-time education as she hasn’t been able to attend school since 2012.

“She’s such an intelligent girl. She wants to do business studies and her dream is to open a cake shop one day. But she will have to study from home. Just getting to college would completely exhaust her,” said Carolyn

Despite Hunter being in a lot of pain and his hips sometimes popping out of their sockets as he walks, he helps Sophie by picking up things she asks for. However, training has been slowed by his condition. Hunter still helps Sophie when she is moving around the house on her crutches by leaning on her. This helps Sophie keep her balance and has saved her quite a few times from falling and hurting herself.

For more information or to donate go to www.youcaring.com and search for ‘Hunters Hips’.