A cancer diagnosis can be devastating for families, both emotionally and financially. When the family pet faces the disease, the decision to fight it lies with its owners and their bank account.
"It's very expensive," said dog-lover Diana Bourgeois. "We do not want to see someone have to euthanize a dog because they can't afford the funding for [treatment]."
This is why Bourgois got involved at Emma's Foundation for Canine Cancer. The nonprofit started in Milton to provide financial help to pet owners who could struggle to pay for cancer treatment for their beloved pet.
"Whether we can give a little or give a lot," Bourgeois said, "We just want to do what we can to help these people."
One of the people the foundation has helped is Bernadette Earley. Earley's dog, Miracle, is a service dog and was diagnosed with stage 5 B-cell lymphoma when she was 14 years old.
"You're just devastated," Earley said, reflecting on when she found out about the diagnosis. "I stood there just speechless when they told me the bill."
Earley debated taking out thousands of dollars in loans to pay for chemotherapy and other treatments for her furry best friend, knowing she'd be paying them off for the rest of her life. The other option being euthanization, Earley said she was incredibly thankful when she heard about Emma's Foundation.
"I don't want that for me and I don't want that for anybody else," she said. "They shouldn't have to put their dog to sleep because they don't have the funding."
Miracle has been in remission for several years and still works as a service dog. She visits human cancer patients more than ever. Earley said she loves seeing the process come full circle, providing some joy to people going through similar treatments as her pup.
"Every single day that I'm out of the house, Miracle touches somebody's life," she said. "Miracle just gives so much love. I just want her to be able to continue her legacy."
Miracle, along with more than 800 other dogs, will continue sharing their love with the world thanks to Emma's Foundation.
Since its start in Milton, Vermont, the nonprofit has raised nearly $420,000, giving it all to families looking for help in prolonging their dog's life.
It started with Tina and Ron Hatin losing their dog, Emma, to jaw bone cancer. They said the foundation keeps both Emma's memory and other people's beloved pets alive.
Emma's Foundation only serves residents and their dogs in New England and Florida residents at this time, but has goals to extend its services to the entire country.
To make a donation, learn about upcoming fundraising events and how to get help in financing treatment for your dog, visit the Emma's Foundation for Canine Cancer website.
You can also contact the foundation at (802) 598-1263 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.