One ‘lucky dog’ (and one lucky vet school) to be featured in the Super Bowl

January 30, 2020

A very grateful pet owner has created a Super Bowl ad to thank—in a huge way—the veterinary school that saved his dog’s life.

When David MacNeil learned last summer that his golden retriever Scout had an aggressive blood vessel cancer and wasn’t likely to live out the month, MacNeil was devastated. On the advice of Scout’s primary care veterinarian, MacNeil took his dog to the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW) School of Veterinary Medicine, where Scout’s hemangiosarcoma was treated aggressively with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy, according to an article on the university’s website.

Within a month, the size of Scout’s tumor had decreased by nearly 80%, and today it is “all but disappeared,” according to the article. Having already lost three other dogs to cancer, MacNeil is understandably ecstatic about his dog’s current health and extremely grateful to the medical team that saved his life.

But MacNeil isn’t just any pet owner. He is CEO of Illinois-based WeatherTech, a very successful manufacturer of automotive accessories and home and pet care products, and he wanted to show his appreciation in a very, very big way.

MacNeil purchased a $6 million Super Bowl commercial that features Scout and the some of the team at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine who treated him. The 30-second spot, called “Lucky Dog,” shares Scout’s story from star to patient to survivor and encourages viewers to donate to the hospital that saved his life.

“We wanted to use the biggest stage possible to highlight Scout’s story and these incredible [treatment] breakthroughs, which are not just limited to helping dogs and pets. This research will help advance cancer treatments for humans as well,” MacNeil said in the article.

The university considers itself pretty lucky, too. “This is an amazing opportunity not only for the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the School of Veterinary Medicine, but for veterinary medicine worldwide,” said UW veterinary school Dean Mark Markel, DVM, PhD, DACVS. “So much of what’s known globally today about how best to diagnose and treat devastating diseases such as cancer originated in veterinary medicine."

Case in point: The TomoTherapy machine used to treat Scout’s cancer by precision targeting radiation therapy was created at UW and is now widely used to fight cancer in people, Dr. Markel said. “Now [TomoTherapy] is one of the more common ways to treat cancer in people, and it was first developed here,” he told The Washington Post.

Every donation received as a result of the Super Bowl LIV commercial, scheduled to air in the second quarter of the big game, will help support cancer research at the UW Veterinary school.

You can watch this touching Super Bowl LIV ad here.