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Online pals give Lulu their love

Lulu relaxes at home with Kimberly Hammond Donahue.

Lulu relaxes at home with Kimberly Hammond Donahue.

When Kimberly Hammond Donahue set up an online donation account to raise money for the sick, abandoned dog she rescued Feb. 15, the response she got was far from what she anticipated.

“I was hoping to just get enough in the beginning to cover some initial costs.I thought, ‘I’ll put it out there and whatever I get, I get,’ ” she said.

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As of Friday morning, just five days later, the Danvers resident’s page on GoFundMe.com had brought in a whopping $17,025 for Lulu, a 6-year-old German shepherd suffering from a potentially life-threatening esophageal condition.

“You can probably hear it in my voice, I’m still shocked,” Hammond Donahue said.

A longtime animal lover, Hammond Donahue, 55, was picking up her own dog, Shiloh, from Spoiled Rotten Doggy Daycare in Danvers when she spotted Lulu.

“The first thing you notice when you see her is that she’s so thin,” said Hammond Donahue. “You can feel every bone if you put your hand on her. She was so unlike the other dogs, so I asked about her.”

Lulu had been boarded at the day care for about a month. The dog’s owners had recently lost their home, and contacted the center to say they would not be able to come back for their pet, according to Spoiled Rotten owner Jillian Currier.

Hammond Donahue immediately thought of her late father, Henry Eliot Hammond, who, she said, always loved German shepherds. The family had one as a pet when Hammond Donahue was growing up.

That day she first saw Lulu also happened to be the one-year anniversary of her father’s death.

“I had to do something,” Hammond Donahue said. “This dog came to me right on my father’s anniversary. When she showed up right in front of me, it was a sign.”

Hammond Donahue and the staff from Spoiled Rotten contacted the Danvers Animal Hospital, where Lulu had been seen in the past. Her records indicated that she had been diagnosed with esophageal diverticulitis, a condition that prevents the dog from eating without regurgitating its food.

According to veterinarians at the hospital, Lulu has been suffering from the condition for about four years, and without immediate corrective surgery, it would likely escalate to life-threatening.

Hammond Donahue took Lulu home from the day care on Saturday and resolved to get her the care she needed. She learned that the necessary veterinary visits and surgery could cost up to $8,000, and decided to set up a donation page on gofundme.com, a personal online fund-raising website.

“It’s the easiest way for people that have a heart and want to do something to help,” Hammond Donahue said.

Donations began pouring in Saturday evening. According to the site, funds totaled nearly $2,000 in the first 24 hours.

“The website sends me an e-mail each time a donation is made,” Hammond Donahue said. “My phone just kept binging all night with alerts.”

The surgery, which will be done at the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, requires a long series of tests and visits. After all of Lulu’s expenses are paid for, Hammond Donahue said she plans to donate the remaining money to the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem.

In the meantime, she said she remains grateful for the support she has received, and hopes to give Lulu the best care possible.

“The response has been so overwhelming I’m just so beyond the point of happiness,” said Hammond Donahue. “It’s been a lot of work, but to the animal lover, it’s a labor of love.”

Lauren Spencer can be reached at lauren.spencer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenspencer6.
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