New Castle News

October 29, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Organization battling canine cancer holds first fundraising walk

Sam Luptak Jr.
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Dozens of dogs and their owners turned out Saturday morning to help battle canine cancer.

Some of the hardier souls and their pets participating in the 2 Million Dogs Puppy Up! Walk took a two-mile stroll outside in the rain and dropping temperatures. Others chose to do their laps inside, but either way, they all accomplished the same thing — raising money and awareness of a disease that strikes between 4 and 8 million companion animals each year, according to the 2 Million Dogs’ website. Most of those animals, the website says, never receive adequate care or treatment.

The Puppy Up! walk — the first to be held locally —  took place  at the Y-Zone in Neshannock Township. Dozens of dogs and their owners participated in the day-long event, which also included agility contests and demonstrations, vendors, food, a DJ, demonstrations by a police dog and a host of other activities aimed at the canines and those who love them.

Organizer Micki Handte was ecstatic for the turnout, especially in light of the inclement weather. She explained that 2 Million Dogs began when Luke Robinson walked with his dogs more than 2,000 miles, from Austin, Texas, to Boston to raise awareness of canine cancer. During that walk, he determined that if he and his dogs could walk 2,000 miles, then he should be able to inspire 2 million people to walk their dogs two miles to do the same nationwide. The group grows toward that goal each year.

Deanna Nocera, a New Castle resident and local attorney, walked with her dog, Zoey, who is just the type of dog that this activity benefits.

Zoey began limping five months ago, Nocera said, and “We thought it was a torn ligament.”

After several vet visits, and rounds of X-rays, Nocera received the devastating news.

Zoey had osteo-sarcoma, or bone cancer. The dog’s right leg was amputated and she began chemotherapy.

“I had never heard of cancer in dogs,” Nocera said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to do all this. I feel horrible for those who are not able to afford to do it.”

In spite of the cost, Nocera never questioned the value or worth of all that has gone into saving Zoey’s life.

“She is still happy, healthy and playful,” Nocera said. “She exhibits no signs of being sick. She is very loyal. She is not suffering.

“I am thankful for every day with her. She is my best friend and owns a very big piece of my heart.”

Handte, who also lost two dogs to canine cancer, noted that the money raised from these events helps to fund studies that are searching not only for the cure, but causes of cancer.

“Why do dogs get the same cancers as humans?” she said. “The goal is preventing cancer in human and canine alike.”