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PEARLAND, Texas — Jan Kitchens got Carter, a Boxer dog, when he was just a puppy. When he was about 2 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer.  Jan did her research and was referred to animal experts over at Texas A&M. They wanted to do surgery on Carter, but Jan didn’t really want to go that route, so she explored other options. That’s when she found Dr. Melissa Parsons-Doherty, who gave her and Carter an alternative to surgery. Carter’s been doing radiation for years, and Jan says she’s thrilled with how Carter is responding.

It’s stories like Jan’s that have motivated Dr. Parsons-Doherty. She’s been an oncologist for about 13 years, and throughout her career, she’s seen first-hand the amount of stress and pain a family can endure during a cancer diagnosis for their pet. While working at a cancer center in Canada, Dr. Parsons-Doherty noticed the bond between families dealing with pet cancer, something she hadn’t seen at other animal hospitals.

“Oftentimes, cancer is treated through an oncology service at a multi-specialty hospital where anybody can be there for anything, like a knee surgery or any other problem,” Dr. Parson-Doherty explained. “But the cancer people don’t necessarily know each other, so I really wanted to recreate that culture.”

With that in mind, she opened the Pearland Animal Cancer and Referral Center.

“What I wanted to do was try to separate us from other specialty hospitals. I wanted to make it about the cancer patient, and so really we’re the first cancer center in Houston that is really dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of dogs and cats who have a suspected case of cancer, or already have a diagnosis of cancer,” she said.

Their mission is simple – to cut the stress for you during an already stressful time. Most importantly, Dr. Parsons-Doherty wants to make sure your dog or cat is as comfortable as they can be.

“We don’t want them to suffer. We want to make sure they have quality of life, not quantity,” Dr. Parsons-Doherty said. “That’s where our tagline comes from – ‘Making Life Better – Longer’ because that’s what it’s really about and what I hear over and over again.”

Carter might be sick, but thanks to the center, he’ll be able to live out his golden years just a little more comfortably.