Dogs get cancer, too.
That’s why the American Cancer Society is hosting Bark For Life, a canine event to fight cancer, Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at J.F. Gregory Park.
“Cancer is cancer,” said Bark For Life organizer Civility Bowling. “It affects everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have two legs or four. Our goal is to raise awareness and promote research to help fight it.”
According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, cancer will affect one in every three dogs during their lifetime. Of those, half will die from the disease.
“A lot of people don’t realize how prolific cancer is in dogs and cats, or what options are available beyond diagnosis,” said Dr. Andrew Daters, a veterinary oncologist at Southeast Veterinary Oncology and Medicine in Savannah and the Bark For Life signature sponsor.
Daters said canine cancer treatment isn’t all that different from human cancer treatment, so research funded by events like Bark For Life benefits oncology patients of all shapes, sizes and species.
“We use the same tools and techniques and medications for dogs that you would for humans,” he said. “All of our chemo drugs are human drugs. All of our radiation machines are human radiation machines. All of our surgical techniques are based on surgical oncology. We just use them a little differently.”
The Bark For Life fundraiser, which is affiliated with Relay For Life, will feature a variety of activities for both dogs and humans, though the spotlight will be on the pets.
“It’s basically a family fun day at the park, with an emphasis on the four-legged family members, since they’re the participants,” said Bowling. “Each registered dog will get a bandana and a treat bag and have their photograph taken.”
Additional treats and activities will be available inside the pavilion, where 24 area organizations and businesses — like the Ice Cream Stop, which will offer a free scoop of vanilla ice cream to participating dogs — will set up booths promoting their products and services.
Daters is scheduled to speak at Bark For Life about canine oncology and the treatments available to diagnosed pets. He will also man a booth in the pavilion, where dogs can create their own paw-print artwork for a small donation.
Pups can also compete in a series of contests, with awards being given to the best-dressed pooch, the dog with the best trick and the canine that most closely resembles its owner. The youngest and oldest dogs present will also receive awards.
For the two-legged guests, there will be free inflatables, a free breakfast provided by Kellogg’s, face painting, snow cones and food from local restaurants.
“It should be a lot of fun for everyone involved,” said Sara Jane Fogarty, ACS community manager for the Coastal Empire. “This is our way of honoring doggie survivors and the relationship that humans have with their pets.”
To register your furry friend for Bark For Life, visit www.barkoutcancer.org. The cost is $10 for the first dog and $5 for each dog thereafter. Registration also will be accepted on the day of the event, but only pre-registered dogs will be entered in a drawing to receive a gift basket from Oliver Bentleys Barking Bakery in Savannah.
Human admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
All dogs must be on a leash and be up to date on vaccinations.
For more information, visit www.barkoutcancer.org or the group’s Facebook page.