MU receives $5 million gift for companion animal medicine, cancer research

A Missouri couple with a long history of satisfied pet care from two University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine alumni has provided a hefty financial gift to help the school continue its cutting-edge research.

According to the university, Missouri residents Cottrell and Kay Fox contributed an estate gift of more than $5 million to the school’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The gift stemmed from their extended relationship with veterinarians James Schuessler and Fred Bendick, both MU alumni who have treated the Foxes' pets over the years.

The money will support an endowment in companion animal medicine in honor of Schuessler and Bendick, as well as fund the activities of the school’s comparative oncology program, the university said.

According to the university, the couple brought in their family dog for cancer treatment years ago, and during treatment the dog was given an MU-developed drug called Samarium. That same drug was consequently used for Kay Fox’s father years later when he needed cancer treatment.

“Our pets and our family have received great care and benefited a great deal from the important research being done at the university,” Cottrell Fox said. “Kay and I have been touched by cancer in many ways, through family and good friends, and our hope is that this gift will help stimulate more lifesaving research in the future.”

The Foxes made another significant contribution to the College of Veterinary Medicine by providing the idea for the school’s “Perpetual Pet Care Program,” which arranges for pets to be placed in good homes if their owners pass away or are temporarily incapacitated. Donors can establish an endowment through the program to ensure that their pets will always be cared for during their lives.

“The Foxes have shown their dedication and love for their pets by giving us the wonderful idea for the Perpetual Pet Care Program,” said Neil Olson, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Also, by generously funding an endowment for companion animal care and comparative oncology research, Kay and Cottrell Fox are not only establishing a legacy that will allow us to provide the highest quality care for our animal patients, but they are also helping to ensure that we can continue our quest to find treatments and cures for people and animals with cancer.”