BY KENDYL HOLLINGSWORTH
One local dog is in need of the community’s help to beat cancer.
Baller, a 10-year-old shar-pei and pitbull mix, has a cancerous mass on his right thigh. The mass requires surgery to remove so the cancer will not spread, but with the estimated cost of treatment out of his family’s budget, owner Wendy Lowery researched her options and turned to the Magic Bullet Fund for help.
“He’s so sweet, Baller,” Lowery said in a video seeking help. “He doesn’t feel very well right now, but if you could help us … we would be so grateful.”
To qualify for assistance, pet owners must fill out an application and meet a couple criteria: The family must truly be unable to afford treatment on their own, and the dog or cat’s veterinarian must verify that the pet has a good chance of surviving at least a year with the treatment. The fund’s review board also evaluates the pet’s chances of survival.
Baller met the criteria, so the Magic Bullet Fund set up an individual fund for him. Anyone wishing to make a donation may do so online at themagicbulletfund.org or by mail by sending a check to the Magic Bullet Fund at P.O. Box 149, Yorktown Heights, New York 10598. Donations are tax deductible.
While the Magic Bullet Fund will provide assistance to those in need, Founder Laurie Kaplan said it doesn’t pay for the treatment in full.
“We believe that owners should pay what they can toward their pet’s treatment,” she explained. “Our case manager calculates the amount we will offer to raise. The amount is the full amount needed for the surgery or chemo protocol, minus what the owner can pay, minus a nonprofit discount from the clinic, minus the part of treatments that have already been done.
“We pay the clinic directly for each treatment on the day of the treatment. Donations to the fund for a specific pet are used to pay for cancer treatment for that pet, if possible. If the pet does not use all of the donations, then the remainder goes to our general fund.”
Kaplan said donations to the general fund are crucial for each individual fund that’s established.
“We also need donations to the general fund because when we open a fundraising campaign for each pet, we start it with a ‘gift’ from the general fund,” she said. “Usually our gift is about half the amount needed.”
Once a pet’s donation goal is met, the pet is moved to the “Pets Funded” page on the website.
Baller’s goal is over $600.
“Cancer is as unpredictable in pets as it is in humans,” Kaplan said. “We do not expect miracles for all of the dogs, but we celebrate the ones we get. The real miracle for these families is that they can have more special moments that will become lasting memories and the very important ability to say, ‘I fought for my pet’s life.’”
Kaplan did just that for her dog, a Siberian husky named Bullet, several years ago. Bullet was diagnosed with lymphoma at 9 years old, but thanks to chemotherapy, diet changes, supplements and a home care regimen Kaplan created, he beat cancer and lived until he was 14.
At the suggestion of Bullet’s oncologist, Kaplan wrote a book, “Help Your Dog Fight Cancer,” to help others who had dogs diagnosed with cancer. She then started the Magic Bullet Fund so she could use proceeds from the book to help owners who couldn’t afford their pets’ cancer treatments.
Kaplan said the Magic Bullet Fund has helped more than 830 cats and dogs since 2005.
“The most rewarding part of running Magic Bullet Fund is knowing that no matter how successful the treatment is — whether the pet survives a very long time, or doesn’t respond to treatment at all — we did help an owner try to fight for his [or] her pet’s life,” Kaplan said. “The alternatives are to euthanize, or watch cancer destroy the pet little by little. I know that if there is hope of success, then trying is the best thing for the pet and for the owner.”
To donate to the Magic Bullet Fund’s general fund, or apply for financial assistance to treat another dog or cat, visit themagicbulletfund.org.