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Emily Thies, aged fourteen, was a selfless hero to a little dog in Rapid City. The little fellow was the victim of a hit-and-run on West Main Street. A passerby picked up the injured dog and took it to the Humane Society of the Black Hills.

Soon a veterinarian declared the rear leg too badly crushed to repair, and an expensive surgery would be required to save the dog's life. Sad to say, the Humane Society counts as "humane" the killing of animals that might be saved if anyone wanted to pay for it, but such things aren't available for free.

When Emily Thies heard about the dog's need, she wanted to pay for the chihuahua's surgery. She'd saved $500 from babysitting and pet-sitting. Her mother Betsy Thies said, "She does a lot of pet-sitting, whether its dogs, cats, geckos, or frogs."

As volunteers at the shelter, the family had behind-the-scenes knowledge of Human Society plans. "I was just so sad," said Emily. "I had to do something." The eighth-grader was saving money so that she could afford to buy a car when she started college, but now that money went to the dog's surgery.

The little fellow was named Optimus Prime (of Transformers fame; there's a chihuahua in both films). Three weeks after his surgery, the three-legged Optimus was healed enough for adoption. All Emily wanted in return was the assurance that he went to a home where he'll be loved. [December 2009]

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