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Unite to Fight Pet Cancer Campaign Brings Funds and Awareness to Cancer Research

May 1 kicks off Pet Cancer Awareness Month and the start of Morris Animal Foundation’s Unite to Fight Pet Cancer awareness and fundraising campaign. Animal lovers are being asked to give pets a better chance at a longer, healthier life – pets like Rocky, a beloved Dalmatian whose life was cut short by cancer – by making their gift today.

“Most families with pets have been impacted by cancer – a disease that is taking away our pets way too soon. At Morris Animal Foundation, we are determined to change that by preventing and successfully treating cancer,” said President and CEO John Reddington, DVM, PhD. “Right now, cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 1, and the second leading cause of death in cats, with 12 million new diagnoses every year.  

Since 1948, the Foundation has funded 312 cancer studies and seen significant advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment, including:

  •  Improved imaging to identify diseased tissue during cancer surgery
  • A vaccine used to treatment melanomas in dogs, also effective in horses
  • Use of probiotics during chemotherapy to lessen side effects
  •  Better testing to improve treatment outcomes for dogs and cats with brain cancer
  • Targeting a cancer-causing virus in cats to prevent and improve treatments for a common skin cancer
  •  Immunotherapy clinical trials for osteosarcoma in dogs and oral cancer in cats

“The Foundation is helping to improve personalized veterinary medicine, find new and effective treatment targets, and train new scientists to help our pets survive cancer,” said Dr. Reddington. “We are unwavering in our commitment to continue to improve cancer medicine, giving our pets longer and healthier lives.”

Rocky, who had a very rough start in life, is one of many dogs that inspires the cancer research work at Morris Animal Foundation. When Denise and Larry Achram rescued him, he had been abused and neglected – infested with fleas, gums infected, muscles atrophied, a body covered with sores – Rocky was almost unrecognizable as a Dalmatian. When it comes to animals, though, Denise Achram has a soft touch and a powerful will.

Rocky found his happy home and quickly became a part of the Achram family, along with other rescued animals. For many years he enjoyed long walks, lots of love and a special place in the hearts of all who knew him. At 10 years old, though, Rocky was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

“Rocky was such a joyful, happy dog,” said Achram. “When he was diagnosed with cancer I had a sense of overwhelming sadness and felt defeated, especially after everything he had been through early in his life. We had lost other dogs to cancer, but they were older. It just seemed that Rocky had so much life left to live.”

Even with aggressive, gold-standard treatment, Rocky only lived four months after his diagnosis. But the Achrams were determined to make a difference and work to save other animals from cancer, even if they couldn’t save Rocky. Their journey with Rocky 19 years ago brought them to Morris Animal Foundation, where they began making donations to support animal health research.

“I pray every day there is a cure found; so many dogs are taken way too early and it is heartbreaking for their families to let them go,” said Achram. “They enrich our lives so much and they don’t deserve cancer. They are faithful, loving and so innocent – my hope is that within my lifetime we will see a cure for osteosarcoma and other cancers.”

Unite to Fight Pet Cancer kicks off on May 1, the first day of Pet Cancer Awareness Month, and runs through June 30. Funds raised during the campaign will support Morris Animal Foundation’s animal cancer research projects. Thanks to a generous gift from the Blue Buffalo Foundation, all donations will be matched up to $50,000 until June 30.

Support Unite to Fight Pet Cancer

About Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation is a global leader in funding scientific studies that advance the health of companion animals, horses and wildlife. Since its founding in 1948, the Foundation has invested over $113 million in more than 2,500 studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases to benefit animals worldwide. To learn more, or to make a donation in support of life-saving research, visit Morris Animal Foundation.