MAF cancer initiative seeks to raise $30 million

MAF cancer initiative seeks to raise $30 million

Program targets canine, childhood cancers
May 01, 2007
By staff

DENVER, COLO.—The Morris Animal Foundation launched a $30-million fundraising effort to back its three-phased canine-cancer initiative that aims not only to save dogs from the disease, but also help produce breakthroughs in human cancers — especially those typically found in childhood.

"Cancer in pet dogs strongly resembles the cancers we see in pediatric patients. If agents are shown to be helpful for pet dogs with certain cancers, it is quite likely that these agents will also be helpful in children with the same cancers," says Dr. Richard Gorlick, vice president of the Bone Tumor Committee and the Children's Oncology Group. "We strongly support MAF's initiatives and believe that results will be ultimately helpful for both children and canine cancer patients."

The program, which will integrate research from the National Cancer Institute's Comparative Oncology Program, includes clinical trials to test new therapies for cures and pain management, prevention studies related to genetics and the canine genome, funding of a tumor tissue bank and establishment of an endowment to guarantee continued research efforts.

"This is the ultimate win-win situation," says Dr. Patricia Olson, MAF CEO and president. "As we treat and cure cancer in our pet dogs, we may help alleviate the ravages of cancer among humans. This animal-human bond is simply inspirational."

To support the program, which has a motto of "Best Friends Helping Best Friends," MAF's goal is to encourage 1 percent of the 44 million dog-owning households in the United States to donate at least $50 on behalf of their current dog, a pet of the past or a puppy in the future, for a total of $22 million. Of the $40 billion spent by pet parents on U.S. companion animals eaach year, dogs receive the majority, according to MAF.

Breeds most susceptible to cancer
Corporate sponsorship, like a $1.1 million donation from Pfizer Inc. and endorsements from cancer-focused establishments, including the Children's Oncology Group, Animal Cancer Foundation and MIT/Harvard Broad Institute, are considered key to the initiative's a success.

"One in four dogs will die of cancer, and cancer is the No. 1 cause of disease-related death in dogs over the age of 2," Olson says. "Sadly, many of the most popular dog breeds are especially susceptible to developing cancer."

Donations can be made by calling (877) DOG CURE or on the Web at or at

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