Live Like Roo gives pet parents some peace of mind when they are facing an animal’s cancer diagnosis. Their various grants provide financial support that helps keep pets healthy for as long as possible. Live Like Roo is there to help animals in their time of need, whether it’s funding a life-saving surgery, sending a fun care package, or emotionally supporting pet parents. Learn more about their incredible work here!
Can you tell me about Roo and how he inspired your work?
I met Roo at Chicago Animal Care Control in 2015 when I was looking for a dog to foster. Most of the dogs were jumping in their cages, but Roo was laying calmly and caught my attention. I decided to take him with me, but he had to be isolated at a vet for a couple weeks because there was a flu at the shelter. It was when he was at the vet getting dental work that we learned he had terminal bone cancer. I was devastated and knew I had to help Roo have the best last months. We made a bucket-list and took Roo on boat rides, we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, did a photoshoot, and much more. It got some media attention and it was great to see a pit bull type dog being shown in a positive light. I knew I had to help people who were going through the same thing, and a couple months after Roo passed I decided to start Live Like Roo.
What kind of support do you provide pet parents?
I started off by sending cancer care packages full of Roo’s favorite things, like blankets, balls, toys, and treats. We’ve sent over 5,000 care packages since we started. So far, we’ve given out $2 million in medical grants and hit $500K just this year. We help all kinds of pets— dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, hamsters, even a rat. As of now, we want to focus on helping pets at the time of diagnosis so we can maximize our impact. We have a fund available for bucket-list items, we help pet parents pay for cancer treatment and surgeries, and also help pay for preventative care. Beyond the financial aspect, we also offer a lot of emotional support. We’ve created an amazing network of people who share stories, offer advice, and help one another.
Can you tell me about an animal Live Like Roo has helped?
Cancer is tough, so success stories are unfortunately few and far between, but one that stands out is Sugar Mama. We pulled her from animal control a couple years ago and took her to a vet, where we found out she had masses all over. The vet was honest with us that chemo may not work on her, and I thought for sure it was going to be terminal. We got an amazing foster to take in Sugar Mama after she had surgery to remove the masses. Somehow, Sugar Mama survived a hospice situation and is still alive today. Her foster mom adopted her and they are doing great together. She came from a hellish situation to living her best life and it’s the perfect example of what we hope for every one of our animals.
What is the best part of your job?
It’s amazing to see the impact one dog has had and to be part of the legacy that Roo left behind. There’s nothing better than meeting somebody we’ve helped and getting a hug. It always makes me cry to meet the people and animals that we’ve been able to support. People are so thankful for what we do, and hearing that from someone is so emotional. We give people the gift of hope and the gift of more time with their animal, whether it’s weeks or months or years. Although we are Chicago-based, our community is all over the world, and I love getting to be around those we support and those who support us.