SAUGUS — Izabelle Ohannessian was devastated when she discovered her 7-year-old Labrador Retriever was diagnosed with cancer days before Christmas.
On Thursday, she brought JJ for surgery and is asking friends, family, and the community to help foot the bill. The costs of the operation, including chemotherapy and radiation, are expected to cost more than $30,000.
“It’s devastating,” she wrote on the GoFundMe online page that has raised $655 from 11 donors by Thursday. “I never felt good about asking anyone for money or help, but we will do anything and everything at this point as long as he’s comfortable, to have him around for another five years.”
Ohannessian, 41, purchased the dog through a friend and has been by his side ever since, even through some difficult times, she said.
“This dog helped me get through a lot in the last seven years,” she said. “My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer around this time a while back and he would go with me to the hospital to see him everyday. It would put a smile on my father’s face and the dog’s.”
While Ohannessian has an emergency fund, there won’t be much left after she pays for a new roof her home needs.
If Ohannessian chose not to treat the cancer, JJ’s life would end within a year, according to the veterinarian. With the surgery, JJ could have many years ahead of him, she said.
“He is just too young and too full of life,” she said.
The cancer was discovered after an emergency visit to the animal hospital after JJ got into the bread box and ate raisin English muffins.
When she brought him to the Lynn Pet Clinic, the vet took fluid taken from the lump on JJ’s leg and had it tested.
Ironically, the news comes weeks after Ohannessian asked friends on Facebook for insurance referrals.
“My advice to all pet owners is to get pet insurance and to find a good one because you would rather pay $1,000 and a 10 percent deductible instead of $45,000,” she said.
Ohannessian said she hopes after next week, JJ will be able to come home and join her other dogs, Moose and Chaos, who are rescue dogs.
She said that she can’t help but think about what could have been done differently to be in a better position to pay for the surgery.
“No matter if it is your kid or your dog, you wonder about how could I have prevented this from happening,” she said. “You ask questions like: what could I have done better in my own life to have the means to pay.”
To make a donation towards JJ’s surgery and recovery, visit https://www.gofundme.com/please-donate-to-save-jj