An Ottawa couple who hope to save a Nicaraguan dog that had part of its face chopped off is trying not to give up hope after two airlines refused to fly the animal to Canada.

"I was pretty devastated. We had a lot of support from family and friends," said Graham Thatcher, a veterinarian. "We've been talking about it for six to eight weeks."

Dog cut face

Graham Thatcher and Andrea White believe the dog was cut with a machete. (Courtesy Graham Thatcher)

Thatcher and his partner Andrea White were first made aware of the dog's injuries when someone tagged him in an Instagram photo.

They later learned the mixed beagle named Tyson was cut with a machete. The cut is so severe you can see into Tyson's mouth and nasal passage when he chews.

The operation will be "challenging," Thatcher said, but he hopes to bring the animal some comfort.

"Seeing a dog in pain is really hard ... this dog is just surviving," he said. "I've definitely become emotionally invested in the project."

Airline concerned flight may further injure dog

"I feel like I know him quite a bit already," said White. "I can imagine what it would be like if something like this happened to our dog. It would be completely devastating. For me I feel terrible for the dog, but I also feel really bad for the family. They don't have the means to put him back the way he was."

Thatcher said Tyson has all the shots and paperwork required to come to Canada, and that a local veterinarian has also signed off on his ability to travel.

The Ottawa couple booked their tickets to and from Managua, but on Friday United Airlines said it wasn't comfortable transporting the dog.

"While we support the efforts to provide assistance, we would decline to transport the animal out of concern the dog may further injure himself during travels," said a United Airlines spokesperson in a written email.

"I think they are concerned his injury may be resulting in some kind of compromised breathing," said White.

They also tried to fly on American Airlines with no luck. White said something could happen on the flight, but Tyson won't live for long if they don't perform the surgery.

The pair aren't giving up and have been in contact with Air Canada.

"They're kind of our last hope. I'm confident it's going to work out," said White.