Purley woman spending savings on chemotherapy for pet dragon
A LIZARD-LOVING teacher has admitted to being so enamoured with her poorly pet dragon that her fiancé comes second to the reptile.
Lizzie Griffiths, of Smitham Bottom Lane, Purley, adopted bearded dragon George from a rescue centre a year ago despite the fact he was suffering from a chest infection.
"I just took one look and fell in love," she told the Advertiser. "When I first held him he burrowed into my neck and it was like he was saying he had found his new home.
"Now I wake up at half five in the morning just so we can have a cuddle because if I don't get much time with him it upsets me."
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For more pictures of Lizzie with her pet bearded dragon George, click here
The 25-year-old nursed her scaly beau back to health but was later horrified to discover a tumour on his face – George had developed cancer.
Despite having it removed twice, the tumour kept growing back, and Lizzie feared it could be the end of him.
In a last ditch attempt to save her beloved reptile, she decided to splash her savings on pioneering treatment – making plucky George the first bearded dragon in the UK to undergo chemotherapy.
Now, after spending more than £3,000 and travelling 200 miles each day to the Animal Health Trust in Suffolk, things are starting to look up for George, who was told at the weekend that he was making a recovery.
"To me it is like if your child was really ill, you would do anything to make them better, and it's like he is my child," Lizzie explained. When I first saw George at the rescue centre I just fell in love with him.
"I knew I would give him everything I could, I would spend every amount of money I could on him, and I would take him and look after him and care for him properly. My fiancé knows that George will always come first."
The animal lover, who also has a gecko, is hoping to one day open her own sanctuary with childhood sweetheart Chris Fisher, 26, to whom she got engaged last summer.
Apparently unfazed by his love rival, Mr Fisher said: "They definitely have a special bond and if he sits on me he will just wriggle about. But when he's with Lizzie he's so calm, it's like he knows she saved him.
"I think it's adorable and I understand he is her number one. I don't know anyone who could love George as much as Lizzie does."
George even sleeps in the same room as the pair – albeit in an 8ft long vivarium.
Asked whether she thought her behaviour was unusual, Lizzie shrugged: "I just love him so much."