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Tag: tumor

Batman leaves a legacy of hope behind

batmandogWord came this week that Batman, the dog whose brain tumor was being successfully treated with an experimental gene therapy at the University of Minnesota, has died of pneumonia.

“I wanted to let you know that sadly we lost Batman a few weeks ago,” his owner, Anna Brailovsky, wrote ohmidog! in an email. “The very good news is that it was not to brain cancer, so we can still consider him to be a great success story.”

Brailovsky and her husband Eric Baker found Batman him on the streets of Berlin as graduate students in 1999. He returned with the couple to the United States in 2001, and was happy and healthy until he had a series of seizures in 2008.

A tumor was diagnosed and Batman ended up at the University of Minnesota, where Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar, a veterinary surgery professor, and John Ohlfest, a pediatrics professor, had been considering an experimental brain tumor treatment for about three years.

Batman underwent the procedure — which, though it had been tried on mice, had never used on a dog before. Surgeons removed most of Batman’s tumor, much of which was then used to make a vaccine for the dog.  A year later the tumor was gone.

The experimental treatment could someday help people with the same disease.

“The study now has many more dogs in various stages of treatment and recovery, and they are steadily moving toward developing the protocol for human trials,” Brailovsky said.

To keep Batman’s memory, she and her family created a website that tells his story and features a university-made video on his treatment:


“Every dog is special to his family, but we were extremely fortunate that Batman’s life also had an impact on the lives of many others,” the website says.

“In the 18 months following the surgery and vaccine protocol, Batman was almost entirely back to his normal,  self, and we cherished every extra trip to the park and every extra cuddle on the couch that the experimental treatment had granted us. It was a miraculous gift.

“Unfortunately, curing the brain tumor did not get rid of the seizures originally caused by the tumor growth. With his indefatiguable spirit, Batman repeatedly recovered from the aftermath of a half-dozen serious grand mal episodes that left him temporarily blind and weakened for hours, sometimes days, at a time. He always bounced back as strong and healthy as ever, and we are deeply saddened that our miraculous survivor has finally ran out of second chances.

“On Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Batman suffered a prolonged series of seizures (and likely a stroke) that left him with severe muscle damage and immobolized him for several days. A fighter to the last, he was beginning to regain his strength and appetite when he was suddenly overcome by rapidly progressing pneumonia on the morning of January 18…

“It was a heartbreaking decision, but we had to let him go. He died in his favorite place on the couch.”

Police dog dies after illustrious career

0215_ricky2_410A Pennsylvania community is mourning the loss of Ricky, an 11-year-old German shepherd with an outstanding temperament and an even more impressive resume.

Among his accomplishments, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

Helping protect two presidents; assisting at ground zero after 9/11; apprehending numerous criminals; checking hundreds of potential bomb sites, four of which contained live material; locating two missing children, one of whom was autistic; and interacting with thousands of elementary-school students.

Ricky, who belonged to West Caln Township Police Chief Curt A. Martinez , began his career when he was less than a year old at the Coatesville Area School District, where Martinez worked at the time as a school district security officer.

In May 2002, a budget crisis led the district to put Ricky on the auction block, a decision that provoked public outrage and led to Ricky’s appearance in People magazine. The ensuing publicity helped raise the  $4,000 needed for Martinez to buy Ricky.

When Martinez went to work in the West Caln police deparment in Chester County, he took Ricky went with him. Martinez has led the West Caln force for three years.

Martinez said Ricky began barking incessantly last week. After visits to the veterinarian and the animal hospital, Martinez learned the dog had a softball-size tumor in his spleen.

“He was clearly in pain,” Martinez said today. “We had to put him down.

“Everyone in the township is taking it pretty hard,” Martinez added. “It’s a loss to the community, too; he was a great police dog.”

A memorial service will be planned, but Martinez has not worked out the details.

Canine melanoma vaccine gets approval

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted Merial Limited full licensure for a therapeutic DNA vaccine designed to aid in extending survival of dogs with oral melanoma, the company reports in a press release.

Merial, a licensee of Vical Incorporated, plans to launch the product, called Oncept, at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando Jan. 16 – 20.

Melanoma is a common type of cancer in dogs and is the most common malignant tumor of the dog’s mouth. It can also occur in the nail and footpad.

The vaccine contains a gene encoding human tyrosinase, an enzyme associated with skin pigmentation. The tyrosinase produced from the human DNA is similar to canine tyrosinase and has been shown to stimulate an immune response against canine melanoma cells producing tyrosinase. The use of DNA from a noncanine species causes production of tyrosinase that is considered foreign by the canine immune system, stimulating an immune response, acording to the vaccine’s makers. It is similar enough to canine tyrosinase that the dog’s immune response will target canine melanoma cells.

Normal treatment for canine oral melanoma includes surgery and radiation, but even after successful local treatment, the melanoma frequently spreads throughout the body, including the lymph nodes, liver, lungs and kidneys, and is often resistant to chemotherapy.

“The approval of Oncept is a milestone in the cancer vaccine field and a significant advancement for our DNA delivery technology platform,” said Vijay B. Samant, Vical’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Rescue takes in tumorous Baltimore beagle


A sweet stray beagle mix found wandering in Baltimore with a tumor the size of a baseball hanging from his neck is being taken in by a Pennsylvania rescue organization.

Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), which had been caring for the dog, sent out an email plea in hopes of finding a rescue organization to take custody of the dog, who will need surgery for the infected tumor.

All Things Pawssible in Lewiston, Pa. — living up to its name — offered to do so, and has a foster home already lined up.

They are accepting donations to help pay for the medical attention he will need.

The Petfinder website for the rescue organization is: http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/PA484.html

Delaware loses a police dog, another recovers

patchWhile a  Delaware police department worried about the fate of one of its police dogs — shot in the line of duty last week — it suddenly lost another one.

Bandit, a 6-year-old German shepherd who had served four years in the K-9 unit of the New Castle County Police Department, was euthanized Monday after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, according to Delmarvanow.com.

The dog had worked Saturday, and became ill Sunday night. He was rushed to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital — the same hospital where another of the department’s dogs, Diablo, was being treated for two gunshot wounds sustained in the line of duty four days earlier.

Diablo was shot twice last Wednesday in Wilmington while chasing down a suspect who police said had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend. Diablo, who developed pneumonia at the hospital, remains in stable condition.

Bandit was surrounded by his handler Cpl. Paul Chickadel, family and friends when he died, police officials said.

In 2008,  Bandit sniffed out $32,445 in connection with drug investigations, responding to 389 canine calls and assisting in four arrests. In June, the team was certified in narcotics detection, tracking and patrol work by the National Police Canine Association.

The department said arrangements have not been finalized for a memorial service.