What to Know
- Typical canine cancer treatment starts around $3,000 and can be as expensive as $20,000.
- Dog'sLife board member Dr. Zachary Wright told us many pet-parents learn about treatments available, but simply can't afford them.
- Dog'sLife is raising money to provide cancer care for more dogs. If you'd like to donate, or if you'd like to apply visit dogslife.org.
How much is your dog's life worth? Each year, six million dogs will be diagnosed with cancer. There is life-saving treatment, but sadly, many pet owners must say, "goodbye" because they simply can’t afford it.
Here in North Texas, that's changing, and the effort is starting with a dog named Sir Desmond.
He's a Greyhound, a breed known for its athleticism. The graceful stride and powerful legs make them great sprinters, and when any time spent on a track is over—they make great pets.
The latest news from around North Texas.
"Wait," Caitlin Schmidt said to Sir Desmond, as she grabbed his leash to take him for a walk outside her parents' home in Rowlett.
"Oh my gosh, were so excited!" Caitlin said as Sir Desmond danced with excitement near the kitchen.
The 9-year-old is a former race champion.
"You're so fast!" Caitlin said as they rushed out the door.
But now, he just wants to be close to Caitlin, the animal lover who adopted him almost six years ago.
"I walked in and we just kind of instantly bonded. They said, 'take him for a walk' and he was just like, 'yup, this is my person,' and I just kind of knew," Caitlin said.
That same instinct, led Caitlin to take him to a veterinarian after his sore leg turned into a knot.
"They did one X-ray and they were like, 'it's not good,'" Caitlin said while shaking her head.
Sir Desmond was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, cancer of the bone.
"As far as cancer treatment for dogs go, we have come just so far in the last 10-20 years," said Dr. Erin Roof, Sir Desmond’s K9 Oncologist.
A month after his diagnosis, she recommended removing a front leg to eliminate Sir Desmond’s source of discomfort.
"For Sir Desmond, we elected to proceed with an amputation for one big reason—how painful this cancer can be," Dr. Roof said.
It can also be expensive. Typical canine cancer treatment starts around $3,000 and can be as expensive as $20,000.
To help pay for Sir Desmond, Caitlin, a Dallas teacher, applied for a grant from the non-profit Dog'sLife.
"You know, like why would they pick me? And my mom said, 'just be honest on your application and tell them why you are applying for this and what he means to you.' And um... when they called me... I acted like this," Caitlin said as she started to cry. "Because I knew I could help him."
Dog'sLife volunteers raised enough money to pay for half of Sir Desmond's amputation and all of his chemotherapy, which doctors hope, will keep the cancer from spreading.
"He's such a good boy," a woman said while petting Sir Desmond while he received his first chemo treatment through an IV at VCA Animal Diagnostic Clinic.
Dog'sLife board member Dr. Zachary Wright told us many pet-parents learn about treatments available, but simply can't afford them.
"That's pretty disheartening for the client, for the veterinarian, for the primary care veterinarian, for everyone who's involved, and that happens too frequently and we can do better than that," said Dr. Zachary Wright, Director of Oncology at VCA Animal Diagnostic Clinic.
"All finished... want a treat?" Sir Desmond was asked after his chemo treatment was over.
Dog'sLife is offering hope for Sir Desmond, and for dog lovers like Caitlin—who now won't have to decide how much her pet's life is worth.
"I just wanted to give him a fighting chance and help him fight it the best I could," Caitlin said.
Dog'sLife is raising money to provide cancer care for more dogs like Sir Desmond. If you'd like to donate, or if you'd like to apply to receive help, visit their website: DOGSLIFE.ORG.
On the organization’s website, it shared how the Dog'sLife founder, Matt Stone, became inspired to create this non-profit because of their dog Maverick:
"Matt and Danielle Stone's beloved dog, Maverick Stone was a Scottish Terrier with a big head and an even bigger personality. He was a loyal best friend, an avid Dallas Cowboys fan, a world traveler, and a courageous cancer fighter and survivor."
"Maverick, was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma at the young age of six. Maverick's cancer required surgery to remove the tumor as well as several weeks of daily radiation treatments, all of which came at a significant financial cost."
"During Maverick’s treatment and throughout the rest of his happy and adventure-filled life, Matt often reflected on how incredibly blessed his family was to be in a financial position that enabled them to pay for the treatment that ultimately saved Maverick's life. In the course of this reflection, however, Matt also came to understand that many families simply do not have the means to get their precious dog the medical treatment they need."
"Recognizing it's unfair that any dog should suffer from this terrible disease or that any loving family should have to say goodbye to their loyal companion simply due to monetary constraints, Matt founded dog'slife, an organization whose purpose is to assist those families save their dogs' lives."
Here is additional information about the 10 early-warning signs of canine cancer as outlined by the National Canine Cancer Foundation:
- Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
- Sores that do not heal
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- Offensive odor
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
- Persistent lameness or stiffness
- Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecation