When Jack Stephens, DVM, founder, and president of Pets Best Insurance, was diagnosed with throat cancer, he received emotional support from his small dog, Spanky. Recognizing that cancer now claims the lives of one in every two dogs and cats who are 10 years or older, this cancer survivor set out to find a way to assist companion animals diagnosed with this disease.
Effective immediately, all pets diagnosed with cancer in the United States are eligible for a free cancer consultation from Oncura Partners, a national pet cancer specialty firm with the costs underwritten by Pets Best Insurance. Pet families are not required to have a policy with Pets Best Insurance, but their consultation request must come from their veterinarian.
Veterinarians are embracing this news, including Alice Villalobos, DVM, a pioneer in pet cancer medicine and author of Canine & Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond. “The bonds that clients have developed with their older pets are especially strong and drive the increasing demand for more proficient and highly compassionate medical treatment of companion animals diagnosed with cancer,” says Dr. Villalobos, who operates the Pawspice Care Clinic in Hermosa Beach, Calif. and the Animal Oncology Consultation Service in Woodland Hills, Calif. Dr. Villalobos continued, “we applaud this important effort by Pets Best and Oncura Partners. Making treatments for cancer more accessible will certainly save a great deal of grief for many pet families and extend the lives of many, many pets.”
Pets Best Insurance recognizes that the key to successful cancer treatment is an early diagnosis and effective treatment regime. Sadly, qualified cancer specialists are not always available locally. This may cause pet owners and their local veterinarians to not seek specialized treatment. Or, the costs may be high and the travel time for treatments may be prohibitive for some pet owners.
With this new initiative, local veterinarians are encouraged to visit www.petcancerfoundation.org to obtain the free initial consultation from a board-certified veterinary oncologist who will identify what treatments are the most effective for each specific cancer. Although the Pet Cancer Foundation web site is for pet owners, the consultation can only be provided to a licensed veterinarian. The web site, however, does provide information on cancer in pets for consumers.
“All too often, cancer treatments for pets do not happen because of the hassle of taking your pet elsewhere, sometimes requiring driving long distances for specialized treatments that may be needed weekly or even more often,” says Dr. Villalobos. “Or people have to hospitalize their pets far from home for weeks or months. Now with this process, many cancer treatments can be successfully implemented, monitored and adapted by a person’s own veterinarian with the benefit of a cancer specialist assisting in every step,” she adds.
In the broader perspective, this initiative was created to keep pets living longer, healthier lives and enable them to bring joy to their families. “And that is our mission at Pets Best,” stated Dr. Stephens.