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Unite to Fight Pet Cancer Campaign Meets Fundraising Goal

Turns Gifts into Cancer Research

Thank You to Our Donors Who Helped Us Beat Our Goal!

Unite to Fight Pet Cancer is Morris Animal Foundation’s annual campaign to raise funds for cancer research that will lead to new understandings about how to prevent, diagnose earlier, and treat the cancers that take the lives of our pets too soon. The campaign, which ran from May 1-June 30, exceeded its fundraising goal thanks to the generosity of our donors and a dollar-for-dollar matching gift (up to $50,000) from the Blue Buffalo Foundation.

The investment in cancer research can’t come soon enough from those who have lost a beloved pet to cancer, including Morris Animal Foundation donors Karen and Jim Withrow.

When Karen Withrow entered a photo into the Orvis Cover Dog Contest three years ago, she learned a little about an organization called Morris Animal Foundation and how it was fighting cancer in pets. The proud owner of two beautiful golden retrievers, Brandy and Savannah, she and her husband, Jim, were enjoying their dogs’ senior years – both were healthy and happy.

“We got Brandy and Savannah as puppies, and had long, wonderful lives with them as they grew older,” said Karen. “Brandy had just turned 15 when she was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. It happened so fast. She was diagnosed and had surgery on the same day. Her doctors thought the cancer was only in her spleen, and we were waiting three to four weeks after surgery to start chemotherapy, hoping for a good outcome.”

But five weeks after she was diagnosed, Brandy lost her battle with this devastating and deadly cancer. What they didn’t know was that, as they grieved the loss of Brandy, cancer was waiting to strike again. Savannah, just 10 years old, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Karen was concerned how Savannah would do with an amputation, so radiation was tried first.

“She got better, but in a couple of weeks the cancer came back and she was worse,” said Karen. “We had the limb amputated, followed by chemotherapy. In December, she was doing worse again, and we lost her on New Year’s Eve.”

In the space of six months in 2016, Karen and Jim lost both their beloved goldens.

“Our clinic, Sage Veterinary Clinic, re-introduced us to Morris Animal Foundation and all the wonderful things the Foundation was doing for animals,” said Karen. “The Foundation’s work not only benefits animals, but may one day help people, too. As a cancer survivor myself, that is very meaningful. In fact, I learned more from Morris Animal Foundation about cancer than from anybody I talked to when I was going through cancer treatment!”

After Savannah’s death, Karen and Jim were determined to do something to make a difference. They were put in touch with Rachelle Beisel, a Major Gifts Officer with the Foundation’s development team, and soon put their energy into raising awareness about cancer research and contributing to ongoing and new studies.  As far as another dog?

“Jim was so devoted to the dogs, and he said he just couldn’t go through that type of loss again,” said Karen. “We said we would never get another dog.”

But, as Karen says, once you have a golden retriever steal your heart, you can’t go back. Today, Karen and Jim are the proud pet parents of Travis, 18-months old golden retriever that is stealing hearts all over again.

And Travis, and all dogs, now have a better shot at longer, healthier cancer-free lives thanks to each of our donors. Thank you for your generosity and for uniting in the fight against pet cancer!


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July 6, 2017