Fundraiser to fight canine cancer

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By John Barnhart

    Like humans, dogs also get cancer. On Oct. 12 Johnson’s Orchard will host a dog walk, sponsored by Ridgewood Animal Hospital n Forest, to raise money to help do something about it.


    According to Dr. Jerry Lane, who runs Ridgewood, dogs get cancers that are similar to those that strike people. And, as is true in people, they are more prone to cancer as they get old. Another way in which dogs and people are alike when it comes to cancer is that it is easier to treat if it’s caught early. That’s why Dr. Lane recommends dog owners bring their furry friends in for a check-up each year — twice a year when they get old. He said nearly 50 percent of pet dogs and cats die of cancer.
    “A lot of the times, by the time we catch it, it’s advanced,” he commented. “Just like in humans, the earlier we catch it, the better the prognosis.”    
    “I draw a lot of parallels with people,” he said. “There are a lot of parallels to human cancer.”
    Dr. Lane said canine cancer, like cancer in humans, is the result of cells that grow out of control. Many of the drugs used to treat cancer in humans are also used to treat dogs and cats, but the dosage is lower. As a result, they have few side effects in animals.
    He said he can’t add 15 or 20 years of life to a dog or cat because their entire normal lifespans are not that long. His goal is to add two or three years of high quality life.
    “My goal is to keep them comfortable and give their owners more time with them,” he said.
    He provided a list of the top signs of canine cancer:
    1)  An abnormal swelling that persists or grows. Dr. Lane said petting your dog gives you a chance to discover these.
    2) Weight loss. Dr. Lane said losing weight could be a sign of illness unless you have your dog on a weight loss diet.
    3) Loss of appetite. Dr. Lane said it’s not normal for a dog to lose its appetite and this may be a sign of illness.
    4) Bleeding from any body opening as well as vomiting or diarrhea. Dr. Lane said this is almost always abnormal.
    Treatment can be costly, but Dr. Lane said that pet medical insurance is available that takes care of catastrophic illnesses, like cancer.
    The dog walk will begin at 9 a.m. and consists of a grass clipped 2.5 kilometer trail through fruit orchards and pastures amid fall foliage.Refreshments will be available throughout the morning with coffee, fresh cider, apples and donuts.
    The charge for each walker is $5 and contributions of a like amount can be given in honor or memory of a special dog who may be retired, not social or  a beloved one no longer with us. There will also be a play area for the dogs.
    Educational information by professionals  will acquaint participants with the awareness of the seriousness of canine cancer
    A percentage of vendor sales will be donated to the fundraiser.An author from Maine, Maxeen Wyatt, who has written a book on cancer from a dog’s viewpoint, “Kimberly’s Courage” will be present for a book signing and sales.
    Chase Away K-9 Cancer is a fund under the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), a 501(c) 3 organization that has provided over a dozen grants over the past few years. It is totally a volunteer organization and there is no overhead since there is no paid staff.