PennVet | Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Foundation Support Penn Vet Cancer Research and Treatment Initiatives
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Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Foundation Support Penn Vet Cancer Research and Treatment Initiatives

By: Ashley Berke Published: Aug 30, 2016

With generous grants from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Foundation, Penn Vet will advance its Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor Program and launch a cancer treatment support fund at Ryan Hospital for owners who cannot otherwise afford the full cost of cancer treatment for their pets.

“Penn Vet’s remarkable front-line research efforts and treatment options are helping to change the way we approach cancer in both animals and humans,” said Susanne Kogut, Executive Director of the Petco Foundation. “Through these investments, we are proud to support efforts that will help countless pets and families impacted by this disease.”

Professor of Oncology Dr. Karin Sorenmo, at left, founded and runs Penn Vet’s Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor Program. She is pictured with Kiley Daube, DVM, and patient Brownie.“Through our partnership with the Petco Foundation, we’re thrilled to support outstanding pet cancer research and treatment initiatives at work across the country,” said David Petrie, President of the Blue Buffalo Foundation. “The inspiring work taking place at Penn Vet exemplifies the critical role that universities and research centers play in understanding and eradicating pet cancer.”

Helping Shelter Dogs With Mammary Tumors and Women With Breast Cancer

Since 2009, Penn Vet’s Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor Program has provided care for shelter dogs with mammary tumors while advancing knowledge of both canine and human breast cancer. Founded and led by Dr. Karin Sorenmo, Professor of Oncology, the program aids homeless dogs without access to the care they need to survive. The program covers surgery and follow-up care costs and helps facilitate adoption.

The two-year, $525,000 grant from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Foundation will enable Sorenmo to continue her work in improving understanding of how cancer develops and finding better and more efficient drugs to treat and prevent cancer in both dogs and humans.

Diamond, a patient in the Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor Program, has her sutures removed by (from left) Jessica Bosco, CVT, Julie Gee, V’17, and Heather Rudolph, CVT.Shelter dogs provide an ideal population for studying mammary tumors because only 10 percent of animals received into shelters have been spayed or neutered. The incidence of mammary tumors in unspayed female dogs is at least four times greater than in spayed dogs.

Mammary tumors in dogs and breast cancer in women have many similarities, both in terms of risk factors and biology. Many of the dogs in Penn Vet’s program have multiple tumors, often in different stages of malignant transformation, providing a unique opportunity to research cancer progression.

“Thanks to this very generous support, we can elucidate the complex biology of breast cancer while at the same time saving the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of animal shelter populations,” said Sorenmo. “It truly is a win-win situation.”

Helping Pets With Cancer Whose Owners Cannot Afford Care

Cancer is a diverse and complex disease with a wide range of clinical outcomes. Treatments can include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and supportive care. And many patients require a combination of these treatments. In addition to navigating these options, clients also face significant financial considerations.

Thanks to a three-year, $350,000 grant, Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital will launch the Petco Foundation & Blue Buffalo Foundation Cancer Treatment Support Fund to provide financial assistance to pet owners who cannot afford cancer treatments.

“As a veterinarian who is trained to deliver the best in compassionate care, it is profoundly difficult, on both a professional and personal level, to experience the grief of a pet owner who has to euthanize a pet because the treatment is unaffordable,” said Dr. Erika Krick, Assistant Professor of Oncology. “Thanks to this generous grant, these emotionally overwhelming and devastating experiences can now be transformed into moments of hope.”

Owners in need will now have access to top cancer experts and treatments in the field at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital. The fund will cover initial treatment costs for cats and dogs needing recommended, standard-of-care, urgent cancer treatment. The animals must otherwise be in adequate health and be expected to have a good quality of life following treatment. Additional parameters may apply.