PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A therapy dog for the kids in one local family is in need of some expensive surgery after it was hit by a car Christmas Eve.

Now people are coming together to try and help.

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Pepper is at the Northview Animal Hospital in Ross Township. The half Lab, half Great Dane is on pain medication because of two broken legs.

Jennie Purnell, of Spring Garden, was making Christmas Eve dinner when Pepper sprinted outside. She was hit by the car in Spring Garden. The driver apparently never even stopped.

Less than a year old, Pepper is already making a difference in the Purnell family, where three of their kids are adopted.

“All of our kids have come from kind of bad situations. They all came to us very young, and the purpose of the dog was to bring some sense of security. It added a certain amount of normalcy for the kids,” said Purnell.

But now, the $6,000 surgery Pepper needs has them facing a difficult decision.

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“Quite frankly, we can’t afford the $6,000,” Purnell says.

That’s when Steve Stoehr, a dog warden, and his wife happened to hear about Pepper.

“They’ve actually taken on the financial responsibility of the dog and what’s going to happen with the dog, so we don’t have to make the decision to put her down tomorrow morning,” said a very grateful Jennie Purnell.

“Not necessarily that we have $6,000 by any means, but we’ll make the commitment. We’re going to make it work one way or another, and that’s where I really hope the community will join us in getting this animal back on its feet and healthy and back to the family that it needs to be with,” said Stoehr.

Stoehr and his wife have set up a page for anyone who wishes to make a donation for Pepper’s medical bills at: http://www.gofundme.com/jb55ns

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David Highfield