Otto, a short-haired miniature dachshund with dark fur and white “goggles” around his eyes, lived with a loving senior couple for all of his 13.5 years. When Otto fell violently ill earlier this month, his owners made the difficult decision to take him to the vet to put him to sleep.

After giving their elderly dog some final hugs, the couple learned they couldn’t afford to give him a proper goodbye. The vet turned them away and said they couldn’t leave the dog there. Heartbroken, the couple saw no other option but to surrender their pet to a shelter.

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Toby Wisneski of the Leave No Paws Behind animal rescue found Otto outside the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter in Calif. along with a handwritten note that said:

“We are both seniors, sick, with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all these years, he cannot function without us. Please put him to sleep.”

Wisneski believes that if Otto were delivered to the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter’s desk, they would have indeed put him to sleep. But she had hope and took the dog to East Valley Veterinary Clinic, where vets determined Otto’s conditions — including a skin condition and arthritis — were treatable.

Toby recognized that Otto’s owners took good care of him for many years, and the dog exhibited no signs of abuse. The Leave No Paws Behind rescue, which specializes in helping senior dogs, spread Otto’s story through social media and local news. Soon, his owners were found!

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The Rescue’s Facebook page is posting frequent updates on Otto’s condition. As of now, he’s doing well, but needs some dental and blood work, skin baths for his condition, and additional medication. Otto’s owners, who work as traveling ministers and have always taken him on their trips, will be with him again very soon.

UPDATE (3/18/14):

More information has come to light regarding this case and can be found here. Otto will now be remaining in the care of Leave No Paws Behind Rescue.