AIKEN - John Requarth loves his dog.
Oscar - "part beagle, part cocker spaniel, part malamute" - is Mr. Requarth's "SPCA special," he said.
Mr. Requarth, a substitute teacher for Aiken public schools, loves his dog so much that he will take him to the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine on Monday to begin radiation treatments on a cancerous tumor on Oscar's back leg.
The tumor, which one of Oscar's doctors likened to an octopus with spread tentacles, already has been cut out. To make sure Oscar remains cancer free, though, Mr. Requarth chose to go ahead with the expensive procedure.
The high cost was not an issue for Mr. Requarth, 49, who says he "inherited" 9-year-old Oscar six months ago from friends who had owned him for about three years.
"He's my family. Oh, there's no question. He's all I've got and I'm all he's got, and we take care of each other," Mr. Requarth said.
Dr. Jamie Herndon, Oscar's veterinary surgeon, said only a small percentage of pet owners go to this extreme to rescue a pet from a potentially lethal disease. Others are daunted by the high cost.
Radiation treatment can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 and take about four weeks to complete, she said.
Dr. Herndon said that when Mr. Requarth was waiting for Oscar's test results to return, he said to her, "You know, whatever Oscar needs - he gets." It's a matter of loyalty, he said.
"I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps - you don't abandon folks, and I'm not going to abandon my dog," he said.
Reach Sara Bancroft at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.