By Jill Whalen, Staff Writer
Tabetha DiNoia was concerned when her dog, Zoey, lost her appetite and refused to go on the walks she always enjoyed.
Thinking the 6-year-old yellow Labrador retriever had eaten something that didn’t agree with her, DiNoia took her to an emergency clinic.
Doctors diagnosed Zoey with cancer.
“My initial reaction was “I can’t lose you. I’m not ready. And I just cried for days,” said DiNoia. “Then I laid with her constantly and tried to look for any signs of what I should do.”
A second opinion from Zoey’s veterinarian confirmed that she had lymphoma. And while her symptoms could be helped with steroids, the doctor predicted she’d only have another three weeks to a month without cancer treatment.
“I spent the weekend processing the news and ultimately, trying to make the best decision for her,” she said. It was an emotional time for DiNoia, who has had Zoey since she was a puppy.
“I didn’t want to be selfish and put her through the treatment just because I wasn’t ready to let her go.”
But when Zoey began to respond to the steroids, DiNoia consulted an Allentown oncologist who believed Zoey could be treated.
“I sat on the floor with Zoey and sobbed, knowing that I would not be able to afford all of the treatments on my own. But how could I not do everything in my power to help her?” DiNoia remembers thinking.
That’s when the oncologist sat on the floor with her and mentioned the Magic Bullet Fund, which helps people across the country who have a dog with cancer but cannot afford to pay for treatment.
It was founded by Laurie Kaplan and named in honor of her Siberian husky, Bullet, whom she rescued from a New York animal shelter. “When Bullet was 9 years old, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Since I was a medical animal writer, I already had some understanding of what that was and wheat it meant. I got him into chemo the following day and I created a diet, supplement and home care plan for him,” said Kaplan, who has a Master’s degree in counseling.
While taking Bullet to treatments, Kaplan met many people who couldn’t afford medical costs for their dogs.
“All they could do was provide palliative care until the cancer progressed, and then say farewell to their dog, she said. The fund helps about five dogs each month. According to Kalan, each canine’s campaign runs for 30 days. Owners like DiNoia are required to make an effort to bring in donations. The deadline to donate to Zoey’s fund is Nov.2.
Luckily, Bullet went into remission and lived a long life, Kaplan said.
DiNoia is hoping for the same for Zoey, who will need 16 treatments over 19 weeks.
The dog started chemotherapy soon after DiNoia’s application was accepted by the Magic Bullet Fund.
“She never ceases to amaze me. She is fantastic. Zoey has reached remission but unfortunately is required to complete this protocol to ensure the best possible outcome,” DiNoia said.
DiNoia said “It deeply saddens me to be in a position where I need to ask for financial assistance, but I will be forever grateful to everyone that has sent thought, prayers, and donations.
She is hoping to spend many more years with Zoey. And she believes Zoey feels the same way.
“Zoey watches out the window as I leave every day for work, and is sitting on the steps waiting when I come home,” DiNoia said.
Anyone wanting to make a tax-deductible donation toward Zoey’s treatment should visit themagicbulletfund.org or the Magic Bullet Fund page on Facebook, and look for her story. Donations may also be sent by texting ZOEY to 71777 or mailed to PO Box 149, Yorktown Heights NY 10598.