A Marco Island teacher's dog was diagnosed with bone cancer. His students raised thousands to help.

Marco Island Academy students raised thousands of dollars to cover surgery costs of their English teacher's dog after it was diagnosed with bone cancer.

Rachel Drake, a junior at MIA, started an online fundraiser after learning Michael Butler's 8-year-old Saint Bernard was not well.

"He (Butler) just said he was having a rough morning," Drake said. "I don't know where the idea came from, I just wanted to help him out." 

Drake and her classmates used social media to spread the word about the fundraiser to help Caribou, Butler's dog.

Caribou, an 8-year-old Saint Bernard dog, rests on grass on Jan. 28, a week after having a leg amputated due to bone cancer.

"I put it on Instagram and people started reposting it," Drake said. "One of my friends posted it on TikTok."

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"My parents posted it on Facebook so that more adults would see it."

In the end, over $4,000 was raised in five days thanks to 77 donors.

"I think that the amazing part [...] was that it wasn't just my current students," Butler said. "It was students I had last year, it was students I had never taught before that graduated from MIA, it was faculty members, it was admin, board members [...], people in the community I've never met donated money."

Michael Butler, English teacher, and Rachel Drake, junior, smile to the camera in a classroom in Marco Island Academy on Jan. 28, 2020.

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Butler continued.

"I have students that work after school almost every day and they are donating $5, and [...] the fact they are donating that just meant the world to me," Butler said. "It makes me emotional thinking about it right now because I had no idea that kind of support was here."

"I don't know of another community that would have banded together over something like this."

Drake said MIA is different than other schools.

"A lot of teachers here are really caring about the students which is part of the reason that I wanted to show that we care about Mr. Butler."

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Michael Butler, English teacher at Marco Island Academy, kneels next to Caribou, his 8-year-old Saint Bernard dog, on Jan. 28.

On Jan. 21, a veterinarian removed Caribou's front-left leg.

"We looked into chemotherapy and radiation, and the price was just way too much so then we looked into amputation," Butler said. "That seemed to giver her a better quality of life."

Butler said he has taken care of Caribou since he was in college.

"I got her and raised her in the fraternity that I attended at University of South Dakota," Butler said. "We have traveled over 20 different states together."

"She is my princess and my travel companion."

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Butler's students know Caribou as well.

"I've probably brought her a dozen times so the students have all met her," Butler said. "If I bring her into class she lays on the floor, two students would lay next to her and just pet her the entire class period."

Butler said that moments like this remind him why he became a teacher.

"(On) my darkest days this community brought me right back up and it kind of reminds you why you got into teaching in the first place," Butler said. "It's to change those kids' lives and then it's crazy how quickly they can change your life in return."

"It was a renewal of energy of why I wanted to be a teacher here."