Back to Stories & News

November 11, 2020 – A common refrain during the holidays is that “it is better to give than to receive.” Our hearts are warmed when we hear statements like these from our donors throughout the year who give, knowing that though they might not benefit from our research, someone else might.

Paul Lisnek is one such donor, who wants to completely spoil his schnauzers until they are old and gray. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible, as leukemia claimed his last dog, Maude, at age five.

Paul eventually rescued another dog, Matt, from a shelter, and they have had many great years together.

But in March, Paul witnessed Matt’s appetite start to dwindle. Paul took him to his veterinarian, who initially suspected pancreatitis. When Matt didn’t get better after treatment, Paul brought him back. This time doctors found a lump in Matt’s anal gland, which turned out to be fast-acting, stage 3 cancer.

“It was a punch in the gut,” Paul said. “Memories came back to me of dealing with leukemia with Maude and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to go through this again.’”

Matt had surgery to remove the lump and was about to start chemotherapy when an oncologist found a second lump, leading to a second, immediate surgery. Since then, he has received five chemotherapy treatments, but his vet then found yet another cancerous lump. They say the recurrence of the cancer is unusually aggressive. Now they are trying another form of chemotherapy to prolong his life. Paul says he is grateful for how science is being used to help his pup.

"I have to believe the chemo, everything they're doing to treat him, wouldn't be possible without folks like Morris Animal Foundation and others doing the research," he said. "Hopefully, I'll have a dog that won't leave me in the next few months, but may be around for another year or longer and we'll do the best we can."

Today, Paul mainly works from home because of the pandemic and cherishes every moment he has with Matt, enjoying frequent walks, snuggling in bed or just hanging out.

Morris Animal Foundation has funded more than 340 animal cancer studies, investing nearly $50 million, thanks to generous donor support. Paul is one them and though he knows his gifts probably won’t fund any studies that will help Matt now, he is looking to the future.

“I’m doing it because I might have another dog that one day will have this situation, or my kid or someone I don’t know might have a dog that has this situation,” he said. "If I found out that I helped make a treatment possible that saved someone else's pet or lengthened their life, I'd be almost as happy as if I helped save my own."

This holiday season, you can join Paul in giving that gift, the best gift, that keeps dogs like Matt around with their owners for years to come. Your support will help us fund critical health studies that lead to new diagnostics, preventives, treatments and even cures to help animals everywhere. And, now through the end of the year, our Board of Trustees is matching all donations up to $200,000, doubling your impact!

Please make your gift today.