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Max's Mission: Help dogs like Ella, who is battling breast cancer

COLUMBUS (WCMH) -- Speaking up for animals that can’t speak for themselves is a mission for us at NBC4 and countless rescues and shelters across the state. It’s the reason we do a segment called Max’s Mission which showcases dogs in Ohio who need a forever family.

What you might not realize is the work that goes into getting your pet ready for your family. Whether a dog is abused or diseased, every one needs TLC. While it comes at a huge monetary cost for most rescues, the people who volunteer their time to be a part of it say the cost is well worth the payout.

At Animal Care Center of Polaris, Dr. Schwarz sees everything from parasites like tape worms, to breast cancer.

"It’s the whole gambit, no day is ever the same, no case is ever routine," said Schwarz.

5-year-old Ella was a stray who toughed it out on the streets. She came into rescue pregnant and in need of medical care but you wouldn’t realize it by looking at her.

"She loves giving kisses and cuddling up with you," said dog foster Brittnie Baker. "It’s almost a little bit of a muzzle punch. She kind of like pushes her face right against yours and then she shoves her tongue on you."

Baker has been fostering Ella for the past two months. "It seems like years.. I don’t remember what it was like before her." When she heard Ella had breast cancer she was devastated.

"There has been some tears. I guess that is an understatement. It has been pretty heartbreaking just to see how excited she is about life."

It turns out Ella is far from alone.

"It’s really common in dogs that haven’t been spayed to develop mammary cancer," said Dr. Schwarz. In fact, local rescue, RESCUEDOhio has had four dogs diagnosed with breast cancer in the past few months. All of the dogs diagnosed had not been spayed.

Medical bills that come with treating cancer are expensive, but every dog that RESCUEDOhio takes in comes with medical costs.

In fact, the rescue dishes out $25,000 a month in vet costs and that is with a steep discount from the animal hospital.

"We’ve held our breath a few months but we’ve made it," said RESCUEDOhio Director Leslie Walker. Like other rescues, they never know what kind of issues a dog coming into their care will have. "If they need dental they get dental if they need surgery they get surgery. We take care of everything to the fullest extent."

Walker said they fundraise daily in order to make ends meet. She says when you see these forgotten animals living a happy life, the cost of care is well worth the money they have to pay out.

"The dogs can’t speak for themselves. We have to be their advocates. If we are taking 600 dogs a year there is another 3 thousand we have to say no to. We just want to make a difference."

While the end goal is always to have a happy and healthy dog, that is not always the case.

Since we started to follow Ella and her story, we have learned more about her health. Ella’s cancer has gotten so aggressive that it has invaded the surrounding tissue and after serious thought, RESCUEDOhio has decided she cannot go through any more surgery and Ella will live out the rest of her life with her foster family.

To help save dogs like Ella you can donate to RESCUEDOhio at http://www.rescuedohio.org/index.php/donations/ and join NBC4 for a special event called Max’s Mission to Clear The Shelter this November 19th at the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center. Every dog will be $18.00 which is the cost of a dog license.


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