“Bark for Life” event raises awareness for cancer research in pets

“We’re out here for dogs, and celebrating how they help their owners through the darkest times,” said Christopher Jeffray with Relay for Life in Bonita Springs.

Furry friends in Bonita Springs spent Sunday at the Coconut Point Mall to raise awareness for cancer research at the “Bark for Life” event.

The cause hits home for Michael Griffith and his 13-year-old Labrador, Bouncer.

“He used to bounce a lot,” Griffith said.

Bouncer found his forever home with Griffith when he was 13 weeks old. But four years ago, they received devastating news.

“Bouncer had melanoma right in front of the heart,” Griffith said.

It’s a common type of cancer found in dogs.

“I think you do it just like you would any loved one. You try to find a way to fix it,” Griffith said.

After months of searching through treatment options, Bouncer underwent surgery at the University of Florida. But the struggles only grew.

“It came back a year later and got into the heart,” Griffith said.

And the trips to Gainesville became more frequent.

“For the last three years or so, he was treated at the University of Florida with a melanoma vaccine,” Griffith said.

With the worst behind him, Bouncer accompanies Griffith to events like the one Sunday.

“We are here to support and raise awareness that cancer can be cured and quality of life can be good,” Griffith said.

Bonita Springs will host its big Relay for Life event April 21 at Riverside Park.

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
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