He finds Lisa in her usual hideout, under the bushes behind the apartment, her arms curled protectively around the Andersons' spaniel. "Daddy, they're going to cut her tummy open and pull her insides out."
"Lisa, I'm sure they wouldn't -- "
"Tommy said they were. That they'd scoop them out with a spade."
It takes him a moment before it clicks. Spayed. He squats down beside the bushes, overbalances, then gives up and kneels. "Lisa, I think you misunderstood. The dog -- "
"Lady has to go and see the doggy doctor. She has to have a special surgery."
He's been on duty for twelve hours, and he doesn't feel up to explaining doggie eugenics to a five-year-old. Especially since she'll probably say that she can take care of the puppies. "It's so she won't get fat. And throw up a lot."
She wrinkles her nose. "But why would they take her insides out?"
"To fix them. But don't worry. They'll put back everything she needs, and she'll be just fine." He reaches under the shrub, and untangles Lisa's fingers from the dog's coat. Gets the dog by the collar, and tugs it out. "Now, I have to take Lady home. We wouldn't want her to miss her appointment with the doggy doctor, would we?"
He doesn't wait for an answer; he hefts the dog and heads for the Andersons' apartment. He'll apologize, and they'll all have a good laugh about the misunderstanding.
And tonight, when he reads Lisa her bedtime story, he'll tell her what a brave girl she is, and how, even though she made a mistake, he's proud of her.