Hand in hand: Cancer walk an extension of corporate help
11:30 PM, Friday, February 10
Magali Wright’s heart is in the right place, and the event she launched in 2011 proved it. A simple idea for a tribute following the cancer death of her dog morphed into a walk through San Marcos’ Walnut Grove Park for dogs and their owners. It involved 400 participants and raised $28,000 for animal cancer research—and as she gears up for this year’s k9 Cancer Walk at the same venue on Saturday, Feb. 18, Wright estimates she’ll raise $50,000.

With Teeka’s death two years ago, Wright learned that cancer in dogs is nothing if not a disease of opportunity. According to the Veterinary Oncology & Hematology Center, cancer accounts for nearly half of all disease-related pet deaths each year. The website dogtopics.com states that 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 succumb to cancer.

“Dogs are so in the moment,” the San Marcos resident said. “I just don’t think they worry the way we humans worry about something that hurts them.”

In the next 10 to 14 years, the Morris Animal Foundation, which has declared Wright’s walk an official cancer research event, hopes to alleviate the anxiety. The Denver foundation and Blue Buffalo Co., maker of several lines of natural pet food, are gearing up for a study of animal cancer and the diet’s place in its potential cure. David Petrie, president of the food manufacturer’s Foundation for Cancer Research, agrees cancer is aggressive in dogs, with owners powerless in the latter stages.

“They’ll go in to the oncologist’s,” Petrie said, “and tests are run, and cancer’s rampant throughout their body, and they die in three or four days. You’re scratching your head, going ‘Wait a second; how did we not see this or not know something that was wrong beforehand?’

Some 3,000 Golden Retrievers—hit hardest by cancer, with a 60 percent mortality rate—are slated as the study’s initial subject group.

American findings on human health through diet date to as early as 1906, with the federal government’s original Food and Drugs Act. Only recently, Petrie said, have modern societies taken up the same cause on behalf of their pets.

Why so long?

“We at Blue Buffalo and the Morris foundation have been asking that question for five or six years,” Petrie said. “A lot of it probably has to do with funding. A lot of it might have to do with prioritizing as far as what type of cancer studies we want done, the vets, the research.”

This study, Petrie said, “is going to take a lot of things into account. It’s going to look at everything from people doing home cooking and feeding their animals home-cooked meals; are they feeding a raw diet, like Blue Buffalo versus a grocery store brand. And it’s not only nutrition. A very key thing is environmental factors—what are people cleaning their floors with, what are they fertilizing their laws with and so forth.”

PETCO, the San Diego-based food distributor, teamed with Blue Buffalo last May (Pet Cancer Awareness Month) to raise more than $1 million for cancer research at the Morris foundation; the year before, both firms took in $800,000 for the cause. Blue Buffalo has made a $2 million commitment to the Morris group as their share of the study.

San Diego County’s pet community has long been perceived as an enlightened one, which may explain the success behind Wright’s inaugural k9 Cancer Walk. This time, she’s got the Morris Animal Foundation at her back, with Blue Buffalo alongside. As grass-roots involvement teams with the corporate realm, the rampant incidence of animal cancer may be facing its curtailment.

More information at http://bluebuffalo.com/ and http://www.petcancerawareness.org/

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