Vets are real everyday heroes. Every single day, they help heal our pets, but they don’t get enough praise. Fortunately, once in a while, somebody comes along who spares no expense to show their utmost appreciation for veterinarians.
David MacNeil thanked the vets who saved his 7-year-old Golden Retriever, Scout, from cancer with a 6 million dollar Super Bowl ad. And the best part? He encouraged people to donate to the vets who saved his dog and all the funds raised from that commercial will support research at the heroes’ veterinary school and help them buy new equipment. That way, they’ll be able to diagnose and treat cancer even better: not just in animals but in humans, too.
“Scout's illness devastated us. We wanted this year's Super Bowl effort to not only raise awareness but also financial support for the incredible research and innovative treatments happening at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, where Scout is still a patient,” Macneil said in a statement.
“We wanted to use the biggest stage possible to highlight Scout's story and these incredible breakthroughs, which are not just limited to helping dogs and pets. This research will help advance cancer treatments for humans as well, so there's the potential to save millions of lives of all species.”
Bored Panda spoke with Dr. David Vail, one of the veterinary oncologists caring for Scout at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Scroll down for the in-depth interview.
Meanwhile, the dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Mark Markel, said that this is an opportunity for “veterinary medicine worldwide.”
“So much of what's known globally today about how best to diagnose and treat devastating diseases such as cancer originated in veterinary medicine. We're thrilled to share with Super Bowl viewers how our profession benefits beloved animals like Scout and helps people, too,” he shared his thoughts in a statement.
We wanted to know what his initial reaction was when he heard about what MacNeil did. “My first reaction was astonishment—this gift of love for Scout and thanks to our Veterinary School was sincere, extremely generous and unprecedented. It was obvious that Scout’s family was not content in just seeking the best of cutting-edge care for Scout, but that they wished to provide a mechanism whereby cancer treatment breakthroughs would be advanced to benefit all companion dogs and cats with cancer.”
Bored Panda also wanted to know what the school plans to do with the funds raised from the commercial. According to Dr. Vail, “100% of the gifts to the ‘Pets Make a Difference Fund’ will be used to support cancer research and animal health at the School of Veterinary Medicine.”
“This includes acquiring new advanced equipment that will be used not only to diagnose and treat current patients but advance our understanding of cancer and to develop newer, safer and more effective treatments.”
He continued: “Funds will also be used to attract even more world-class faculty who will continue to ‘push the envelope’ through research and clinical trials that will ultimately provide hope to caregivers of companion dogs following a diagnosis of cancer. With the help of this infusion of funds, ultimately the School of Veterinary Medicine’s ongoing collaborations with our physician partners at the UW Carbone Cancer Center will advance cancer care for both 2-legged and 4-legged patients.”
Lastly, we wanted to know more about Scout’s current state. Dr. Vail kindly shared some additional information. “Scout’s primary cancer on his heart has responded very well to his advanced radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Currently, it has shrunk by nearly 90% and he has not had any return of the life-threatening bleeding that led him to our hospital last July.”
“Importantly, we have been able to maintain Scout’s quality of life at a very high level as he continues to be his usual self, running along beaches and swimming with gusto. However, Scout’s fight continues as he developed small nodules in his lungs representing the spread of his original cancer. Scout is currently undergoing additional advanced radiation therapy to his lung nodules and is poised to start additional immunotherapy.”
Dr. Vail said that “Scout’s family and his veterinary team are working diligently with advanced therapies, many developed right here at the University of Wisconsin, to maintain his excellent quality of life and turn back his aggressive cancer.”
Scout collapsed in the summer of 2019, was diagnosed with cancer and was given only one month to live. However, the founder and CEO of car accessories company WeatherTech, MacNeil, couldn’t accept this fate for his best buddy.
He decided not to put down his Golden Retriever despite him having only a 1 percent chance to survive: “I'm like, 'I'm not putting that dog down. There's just absolutely no way."
Instead, he took Scout to the UW School of Veterinary Medicine where vets treated him with chemotherapy and radiation. Now, Scout’s tumor is nearly entirely gone.
MacNeil’s Super Bowl ad is a 30-second commercial called ‘Lucky Dog’ and encouraged people to donate money to support tireless vets like the ones who saved Scout. “I hope it has a positive impact on cancer for animals and people, all over the world,” he said about the commercial.
There are three main options when it comes to treating pets with cancer: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy (aka radiotherapy). These can also be used in combination with other treatments to try and save an animal’s life.
The type of treatment advised is linked to the type of cancer, its growth rate, as well as how far it has spread. Surgery, i.e. cutting out the tumor, is considered to be the oldest, most effective, and most frequently used type of treatment. Nowadays, it’s usually done alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy. All in the hopes of saving the animal, so he can be just like Scout the Golden Retriever.