Eli, an American bulldog/bull mastiff mix, thought, as so many "substantial" canines do, that he was a lap dog. Give him a lap and he plunked down in it, on it, around it. Even when he went to the veterinarian's office, he cozied up to his doctor, putting all 100 pounds of him on his vet. According to his pet guardian, a corporate attorney, he was "a big mush." They were together for nine years, ever since he was a puppy. His owner added, "He communicated as if he were human. It seemed as if he really talked…he had the most expressive, soulful eyes. He was a very empathetic dog."
When Eli developed his first cancer—a mast cell tumor—at age six, naturally his "mom" sought medical treatment for him. Ultimately, over several years, he suffered from more tumors, a torn ACL, and then, terrible allergies that manifested in his skin. For that condition, his treatment consisted of a serum, pills, and shots…and for his other ailments, he underwent surgery and radiation. Then, on top of all that, he developed a very nasty tumor, which wrapped itself around his spinal cord; surgery was not an option for that tumor.
"Over the course of his lifetime, he had so many ailments," his guardian recounted. "As I saw the cost for his care mount, I was just so grateful that I had the wherewithal to afford all of his medical bills." But, these unexpected expenditures caused her to ponder how other people dealt with sudden, unanticipated veterinary bills. "I wondered how most people could afford pricey medical treatments for their pets. I was lucky enough to be able to cover these costs, but it got me thinking."
When Eli ultimately made his journey to the Rainbow Bridge, she knew she wanted to do something to celebrate his life and commemorate him; she hoped to find a way to help other people who might not be as fortunate as she was. It had been vital to her to be able to give Eli every chance to fight his cancer and to provide the two of them with quality time together. She believed that most people felt the same way, but might not have the discretionary funds to make that possible. She certainly knew, moreover, that many people, when faced with serious, unforeseen bills for an ailing pet, are tragically forced to accept economic euthanasia as the only option.
She conferred with Eli's two primary veterinarians, Dr. Andrew Kaplan of City Veterinary Care and Dr. Brooke Britton of BluePearl (a large, specialty, emergency pet hospital), both in New York City. "I thought that maybe I could do some small thing to help others and I looked for charities that could directly impact an animal owner." She wanted to find a way to bypass red tape, so that there were no roadblocks between her donation and the ultimate recipient. She certainly did not want to see her charitable donation decreased by bureaucratic overhead. She knew that helping a pet also helped the pet parent. So, how to locate the person and the pet who really needed the money, right then and there?
Dr. Kaplan suggested she contact Waggle.org, a crowdfunding platform for pets and their guardians who are experiencing medical and financial (and emotional) crises. Waggle.org and its sister, the Waggle Foundation, were established to stem the tide of economic euthanasia, a heartbreaking possibility that can happen when a family is faced with unexpected bills it simply cannot afford for a beloved pet's medical care.
Waggle.org represented the ideal charity to meet her wishes as to how her funds, in Eli's memory, could be put to positive use. Because Waggle sends the money it raises for a particular animal directly to the veterinary hospital—and not the pet guardian—there is total transparency and trustworthiness. Waggle.org represented a perfect partner for Eli's Fund, and the match was forged. Noted Eli's guardian,