Two young boys decided if their grandmother could survive cancer, then their pets could too.
Josh and Bryce Benbasat, the sons of two UF alumni, launched PAWSitively Curing Cancer, a new partner of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine to provide funding for pet cancer research.
Josh, a 15-year-old Western High School sophomore in Davie, Florida, created the nonprofit with his 12-year-old brother Bryce after their dog, Sashi, was diagnosed with cancer.
“She died of intestinal cancer,” Josh said. “My grandma also had lung and breast cancer, but she survived it.”
After doing some research, the Benbasat brothers realized there weren’t many foundations dedicated to researching pet cancer.
They decided to create one of their own.
“I was super proud,” Dena Benbasat, the boys’ mother, said. “I knew it would come to fruition, and we all got really excited about it.”
Her husband, Steve, took the reins, she said. He applied for permission to launch a tax exempt nonprofit organization, contacted the university’s veterinary college and made the connections necessary to partner the college with the foundation.
“When our sons came up with the idea, we naturally went to UF,” Dena said. “We wanted the donations to go to a place we felt would have a good chance of finding a cure.”
The boys’ grandfather is also helping the cause by donating recovery collars that Trimline Manufacturing creates.
The collars provide a barrier from licking, scratching and biting treatment areas on pets. They’re given directly to veterinarians and a portion of the proceeds will go toward PAWSitively Curing Cancer.
The recovery collars are made in the U.S. in six sizes, meant to fit all dogs and cats. According to a press release, they are soft collars, water repellant and machine washable. The collar trim is pink to represent cancer awareness.
Josh and Bryce plan on attending veterinary conventions where they hope to find corporate sponsors.
Dena said Josh plans to start a club at his school.
“They’ll have the opportunity to host events and fundraise,” she said.
Malique Pye, a 23-year-old Sante Fe art education junior, works with dogs at PetSmart and said he’s happy to hear about a new foundation to help cure pet cancer.
“I work with these dogs every day, and it’s hard to think of them at the mercy of something that vets can’t cure,” he said. “I think if there’s something on campus that can further research toward finding a cure, it’ll go a long way.”
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 11/25/2014]