FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/New York/January, 2020
Waggle.org announced today that the respected Riedel & Cody Fund has partnered with Waggle.org to help distraught, low-income pet owners facing steep veterinary bills attain funds to offset— or even cover—those expenses. The Riedel & Cody Fund will grant matching funds for ill pets who are suffering from cancer and who need chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and/or oncologic surgery, all of which can represent an unexpected and costly burden.
We know that when a campaign features a matching-fund opportunity, a donor’s wallet ‘expands’ a little; we have seen that that additional generosity gives donors the incentive to contribute more—as their one dollar becomes two. And that helps us reach a campaign goal.
—Steve Mornelli, Founder and CEO of Waggle
Waggle’s crowdfunding website, which officially launched in the fall of 2018, is a pioneering fundraising source, dedicated to helping sick and injured pets regain good health. Arguably, the first of its kind on the internet, Waggle strives to prevent what veterinarians refer to as “economic euthanasia”—a far-too- common, tragic outcome for too many companion animals; this occurs when a pet owner, unable to afford veterinary treatment, must make a wrenching decision to let a pet go. Waggle provides a hopeful solution for an optimistic outcome for all. To date, Waggle has helped hundreds of pets, and by combining its crowdfunding muscle with matching grants from the Riedel & Cody Fund, it will be able to help many more animals in the future.
“Waggle is thrilled to welcome Riedel & Cody into the Waggle family,” notes Steve Mornelli, the CEO and founder of Waggle. “Being able to provide matching funds for so many more of our animals’ campaigns will enable us to underwrite all—or a portion of--the costs for the treatment of so many more pets. We know that when a campaign features a matching-fund opportunity, a donor’s wallet ‘expands’ a little; we have seen that that additional generosity gives donors the incentive to contribute more—as their one dollar becomes two. And that helps us reach a campaign goal.” Waggle currently partners with GreaterGood. org and Eli’s Fund; additionally, Waggle has also received research support from Maddie’s Fund to explore innovative and sustainable models to solve economic euthanasia through early intervention. Adds Mornelli, “We are delighted that now we can also call the esteemed Riedel & Cody Fund another partner in our objective to ease the financial and emotional burdens of pet guardians facing daunting challenges—as we strive to obliterate economic euthanasia.”
The Riedel & Cody Fund (RCF) hopes to help pet owners avoid the heartbreak of economic euthanasia, and that goal dovetails perfectly with Waggle’s. Just as RCF believes that forced euthanasia is not acceptable or humane, so, too, does Waggle and together both organizations hope to reduce—it not, in fact, in the future, obliterate—the anguish of economics euthanasia.
Combining forces with Waggle provides us the opportunity to free up our own administrative time, and we feel that leveraging Waggle’s ‘back office,’ so to speak, can enable us to help so many more animals in a cost-effective fashion. This is a win-win union. We look forward to helping restore good health to many more pets and in so doing, easing the stress and anxiety that their pet guardians experience.
—Mark Tillinger, Co-Founder, Riedely & Cody Foundation
RCF was established in 2011 by business executives Mark Tillinger and David Duchemin, who met through their dogs, Riedel and Cody, respectively. Both canines were suffering from cancer, Riedel from osteosarcoma, and Cody, from malignant histiocytic sarcoma, melanoma, and synovial cell sarcoma. Riedel, a Bernese Mountain dog, passed away at 7.5 years and Cody, a Rottweiler, at 8. Both dogs had been with their human families since puppyhood; Tillinger and Duchemin each acknowledged that his dog’s passing was heartwrenching.
The two RCF founders met through the veterinary office of Dr. Gerald Post, one of some 200 board- certified veterinary oncologists in the States, and currently, the director of the Veterinary Care Center, in Norwalk, CT, which, as of 2016 became part of Compassion-First Pet Hospitals, an extensive network of exceptional veterinary hospitals across the country. The previously independent practice had been the Veterinary Cancer Center, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in companion animals. For Duchemin, an East Coast transplant from California, it was an obvious choice, as he was at that time the COO and hospital administrator at the Veterinary Cancer Center. Tillinger, an Atlanta native, was living in New York at the time, and in seeking optimal cancer care to give Riedel the best opportunity to kick her cancer, located Dr. Post, who was spearheading research on canine cancer and was at the forefront of treatment plans.
Both men, ardent animal lovers, realized that they had much in common. Duchemin had started showing dogs at age 10 and is currently on the advisory board for Canine Cancer Diagnostics & Therapies, LLC. Tillinger had always had dogs in his life, and when both men lost their best four-legged friends, notes Tillinger, “We realized we both wanted to do something to honor our dogs and we started talking about how to do that. Soon, the idea for the Fund was hatched.” Adds Duchemin, “When you are in the front lines of this battle, as I have been for many years as a hospital administrator, you observe so many tragic situations first-hand. I wanted to do whatever I could to aid other pet owners, to help their animals conquer cancer. I did not want cost to be a stumbling block for treatment when a dog or cat had a good chance for a full recovery.”
Dedicated to helping pet guardians cope—both financially and emotionally—the Fund strives to inform the public about the prevalence of cancer in animals, particularly in dogs. RCF also educates pet guardians on how to better care for their charges, focusing on preventative measures to better shield them from potential cancers. The organization supports comparative oncology studies, believing that there is much to learn for human cancer treatment from studies of animals’ cancers. According to the Fund, animals are stricken with cancer at the same rate as humans—a staggering one in four.
RCF is funded privately through donations and grants from its corporate partners, including Petco and Blue Buffalo Pet Food. The Fund is dedicated to covering costs of chemotherapy and radiation, not surgery or diagnostics, and as It migrates to Waggle’s site to leverage matching grants, that dictate will remain. The ceiling for any single grant is $5,000, a figure not arbitrarily selected; the organization consulted the veterinary community to determine a realistic dollar amount for an average cancer protocol. RCF has helped many pets, and with an alliance with Waggle to provide matching funds for the crowdfunding dollars raised, RCF will see its grant money go twice as far. Applicants are carefully screened, as RCF looks to bestow grants to the candidates most likely to make a full recovery. On an annual basis, RCF can usually help anywhere from 25-50 animals, although not all require grants of the $5,000 maximum. (It is worth noting that since cancer is more prevalent in dogs, RCF receives many more applications from dog owners than from cat owners.)
Comments Tillinger, “Combining forces with Waggle provides us the opportunity to free up our own administrative time, and we feel that leveraging Waggle’s ‘back office,’ can enable us to help so many more animals in a cost-effective fashion. This is a win-win union. We look forward to helping restore good health to many more pets and in so doing, easing the stress and anxiety that their pet guardians experience.”