Four dogs - three black and one white - look over the edge of a wall down to camera.

FETCH a Cure: Doing the im“PAW”ssible

As a pet owner, hearing the word cancer can be devastating. And with the average price for pet cancer treatments ranging between $3,000 to $10,000, many pet owners often face heartbreaking decisions when it comes to treating a lovable member of the family.

Drum roll, please … That’s where FETCH comes in!

In July 2006, FETCH a Cure was born. A nonprofit designed to improve the quality of life for pets by providing pet owners with access to information about pet cancers. Working alongside veterinary professionals, FETCH strives to build a community where no one is denied health care for their pets due to a lack of funds. Through its Companions in Crisis program and state-of-the-art pet radiation center, FETCH creates awareness of treatment options for those with economic hardships.

Companions in Crisis program

FETCH a Cure’s most notable program is its Companions in Crisis (CIC) program. For many pet owners lacking pet insurance, treating a cancer diagnosis is financially unimaginable. CIC helps address that by funding approximately20-40% of the treatment.  It really is the gift of quality time with their beloved pets.

“We get daily requests for funding. These people are determined to find a way to help their pets,” said Joanne Silverman, FETCH’s executive director. “It’s very inspiring to see them do whatever it takes.”

Every penny spent comes directly from donations and community events.

Fighting through a “ruff” patch

The COVID-19 pandemic allowed many people to focus entirely on their animals and curated a stronger bond between pets and owners. Because of this, owners were alerted to possible signs of cancer they may have missed while at their 9-5 office jobs.  And so the pandemic generated an uptick in requests for funding assistance.

Like many nonprofits during the pandemic, FETCH struggled to maintain sufficient sources of revenue. A lack of community events and a decrease in volunteer assistance put a strain on the organization. Even so, through it all, FETCH continually fought to provide top-notch assistance for pet owners.

“Our oncology center didn’t close down for a single day,” said Silverman. “The parking lot remained completely full.”

Although hit with setbacks, many positives came out of 2020. FETCH purchased its current operations building, extended its treatments and fully trained several new employees.

Increasing the awareness

If you’ve explored Richmond, chances are you’ve stumbled upon a steel dog sculpture. Surprise! Those belong to FETCH! The Steel Dog Project is part of FETCH’s pet cancer awareness campaign. Over 200 steel dog sculptures, painted by local artists, are spread throughout the community and designed to draw attention.

“We hope the sculptures bring recognition to the community and cause people think about pet cancer,” said Silverman.

FETCH hopes the sculptures remind owners to check their pets for early warning signs of cancer, if nothing else.

Another way FETCH keeps the community engaged is by hosting its annual Pets on Parade Benefit & Auction. The casual cocktail gala welcomes more than 300 people and their furry friends to Richmond’s Main St. Station. This magical evening showcases delicious local cuisine, drinks and an enthusiastic live auction.

Pets on Parade is FETCH’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and funds raised help to further pet cancer awareness and provide financial support for programs such as CIC.

To be considered for funding, fill out an online application. From there, a veterinary board will review the applicant cases. The program serves Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia residents who have pets with a confirmed cancer diagnosis.

To learn more about FETCH a Cure or to donate, visit its website and follow it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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