A PENSIONER has been able to book his beloved dog in for life-changing surgery, thanks to donations from kind-hearted readers.

Peter Hutchings, from Garsington near Oxford, said he is 'thrilled to pieces' after raising £3,000 for his Staffordshire bull terrier Bruce.

One generous donor even gave an anonymous donation of £1,000, after the Oxford Mail reported on the 77-year-old's GoFundMe page.

The money will pay for surgery to correct ligament damage to Bruce's right hind leg, which is not covered by his pet insurance.

Without it, Mr Hutchings faced having to put him down to save him from the pain.

The grandfather, who lives alone with Bruce, said: "'Thank you' is wholly inadequate for the outpouring of generosity and love.

"It's absolutely unbelievable that people would spend that kind of money on somebody else's dog."

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He said when he first took Bruce home, he promised him a 'warm bed, full bowl and a lifetime of love' in return for his companionship.

He added: "He expected me to take care of him, and you wonderful people have enabled me to keep this promise.

"I thank you all from the bottom of my heart - I did not realise there were so many lovely people in this world."

Mr Hutchings launched his fundraising campaign in October, and received an influx of donations when his story appeared in the Oxford Mail the week before last.

He described how Bruce had 'brought his sanity back' at a lonely time, and helped him to make friends while out walking.

One donor wrote on the GoFundMe page: "I know what amazing little souls dogs are and realise the love and loyalty they give is priceless.

"I would love for Mr Hutchings and Bruce to have many more happy joyful years together."

Another added: "I was moved by reading this story in the Oxford Mail. I know how special a pet can be. Good luck to both of you."

Retired chauffeur Mr Hutchings has a son and daughter, who live abroad.

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Bruce, aged six, has been his friend and companion for five and a half years and has developed a condition called bilateral cruciate disease.

His insurance company had already paid out for the same surgery on Bruce's other hind leg, but refused to cover the other.

Policies vary between companies and Mr Hutchings said his daughter's dog had the same operation three times, all on insurance.

If the fundraising campaign failed, he would have paid for a much cheaper procedure to ease the pain in the short term, but the leg would have likely still got worse.

Mr Hutchings said Oxford Mail readers had made 'all the difference in the world' to his fundraising efforts, adding: "It's fantastic - I thought I might be lucky enough to scrape enough for basic surgery, but now we can get him the absolute best.

"He'll be out of pain and able to live his life again, and run around and play."

He has already booked Bruce in for the operation at Hilltop Vets in South Hinksey, which he said had been 'incredibly kind' to him.

The pet is due to have the operation on Thursday, November 21, and should be able to bound around again after a recovery period.