Grant provides lifesaving pet cancer treatments at UW School of Veterinary Medicine

When Kiki, a daring 11-year-old black cat, became less brave and outgoing and began to sneeze repeatedly this January, his family knew something was wrong.

“With some cats, you may know that they don’t feel well if they aren’t eating,” says Hiedi Hall, who found Kiki as a tiny kitten in her driveway more than a decade ago, nursed it with nutritional supplements and loved it until she was a child he since. “At Kiki, we know that he’s not doing well if he doesn’t bite or kick his butt!”

Kiki during an appointment at UW Veterinary Care where he was receiving radiation therapy for periocular lymphoma. Photo by Denise Garlow / UW School of Veterinary Medicine

Several veterinary appointments later, Kiki was diagnosed with periocular lymphoma. This type of lymphoma (a cancer of cells that are part of the body’s immune system) starts in the eye sockets. In Kiki, the disease began as a mass over his left eye and spread to his nasal cavity. Doctors recommended radiation therapy to fight the disease.

Hall was devastated by the diagnosis, but hoped Kiki’s fearless demeanor might help him treat cancer. But another obstacle emerged: finances. Hall had already pulled everything she could from her 401K retirement plan to support Kiki’s medical care.

Hall then learned about the Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund during an appointment at UW Veterinary Care, the teaching hospital for the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine. In the fall of 2020, UW SVM, one of 11 of the nation’s top veterinary oncology universities, received a $ 75,000 grant from Petco Love to fund animal cancer treatment.

The Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund subsidizes the cost of cancer treatments for dogs and cats, helping animal parents who otherwise could not afford the cost of treating cancerous pets. Funds from the US $ 75,000 UW School of Veterinary Medicine grant were distributed to clients on a first come, first served basis, up to US $ 4,000 per client. The funds are now fully distributed.

“Pet cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in dogs and cats and a devastating diagnosis for pet owners who cannot afford treatment for their pets,” said Susanne Kogut, President of Petco Love. “With all of the advances in veterinary oncology expanding the treatment options for pets, our goal is to bring these life-saving treatments to more pets and their pet parents.”

Kiki rests on Hiedi Hall’s shoulder prior to an appointment with UW Veterinary Care. Photo by Denise Garlow / UW School of Veterinary Medicine

Ruthanne Chun, Clinical Professor and Section Leader for Medical Oncology at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, added: “Support from this fund enables us to support clients in financial need. The ability to maintain this human-animal bond and to give meaningful hope is priceless. “

The National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research estimates that cancer affects six million dogs and almost as many cats each year.

In March of this year, Kiki received two weeks of radiation therapy at UW Veterinary Care from clinician Steven Moirano, an assistant doctor in the Radiation Oncology Service. Kiki had his six month check up in late September and is fine with no signs of recurrence.

“The scholarship we received was an absolute miracle,” says Hall. “People can’t imagine how the smallest donations can add up and change a family’s life so much.”

“We are so blessed not only to have more time with Kiki but also to spend more time with him now that he is in remission,” she adds. “I could never express the great gratitude for the scholarship and the caring, talented team at UW that is treating Kiki.”

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