SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Steven Azarello of San Francisco, a Vietnam veteran, is now facing a new challenge after overcoming homelessness and other challenges. He says he's now trying to save the life of his dog Petey that's coping with cancer.
On this Friday evening, he performs a daily ritual, preparing to walk his beloved companion. But the 66-year-old's heart is heavy.
The red spot by Petey's nose is one of three cancerous tumors the dog has developed in recent weeks.
"He has to have surgery. I'm on a fixed income. I'm a Vietnam vet. It's hard to take care of him and myself," said Azzarello.
He says the veterinarian told him it would cost about $4,000 to remove the tumors. Azzarello says he lives on his monthly VA pension check of $1,300, of which $500 goes to rent.
He says he was homeless until he managed to get his studio apartment.
"Just enough to get by. I see all the people out on the streets. I don't want to go back there. It's not fun," said Azzarello.
He says he has contacted numerous veterinarians. But they want a substantial amount of the money up front and will not accept payment in installments.
"He watches out for me. It's hard for me to see at night," said Azzarello as he walks Petey.
Azzarello is blind in his left eye.
"At night time, I walk him on the left so he's my eyes," said Azzarello.
He says Petey is all the family he has and the dog gives him a purpose to get up each morning.
"I want to do more than just exist. He brings that out," said Azzarello, "I'm not looking for a handout. I'm just looking for a little help."
Azzarello is appealing to any veterinarian who is willing and able to help him and Petey.
Azzarelo says he is able to pay in installments about $100 a month.