When Jared Steele rushed his injured pet duck to a Bend emergency animal hospital Wednesday, he thought his beloved pet would have to be euthanized.

Earlier that day, the duck — named Jose Altuve after Steele’s girlfriend’s favorite baseball player — was attacked by a yellow Labrador that snuck into the backyard of Steele’s Sunriver home.

Steele intervened and scooped up his duck, who suffered a gaping cavity in his chest. He took Jose to Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon in Bend, where a veterinarian told him an emergency surgery would cost between $1,400 and $2,400.

Steele and his girlfriend couldn’t afford the surgery and thought Jose would have to be euthanized. But just as they were preparing plans to bury the duck, the veterinarian called and said staff at the hospital would pitch in to cover the cost of the surgery.

Jose was saved.

“It’s just remarkable,” Steele said. “I’m really thankful.”

Steele brought Jose home from the hospital Thursday. He said Jose, who is about 1, has been an extremely loving companion who sometimes acts more like a puppy and wants to snuggle Steele and his girlfriend.

“He is the sweetest little bird ever,” Steele said.

Steele forgives the Lab for attacking his duck. He and his girlfriend are just happy to have their sidekick home safe.

“We feel very lucky and happy we get to have him back,” Steele said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com