Pat Derby Dies of Throat Cancer

The renowned trainer and animal rights activist died at age 69

By on February 19th, 2013 08:13 GMT

Only recently, PAWS (the Performing Animals Welfare Society) went public with the news that renowned trainer and animal rights activist Pat Derby had passed away following a long struggle with throat cancer.

“Pat Derby, president and co-founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), died peacefully last night [February 15] in her home at ARK 2000. Ed Stewart, her partner of 37 years, and PAWS' co-founder, was by her side,” reads the organization's official announcement of Pat Derby's death.

For those unaware, Pat Derby worked as an animal trainer for television programs such as Flipper and Lassie.

Furthermore, she worked with the iconic cougars used by automotive manufacturer Lincoln Mercury in some of their marketing campaigns.

Interestingly enough, Pat's goal when first coming to the United States was that of becoming a movie star herself.

However, she later decided that training and looking after the animals employed by the entertainment industry was a job she was much more suited for.

Thus, Pat and Ed did their best to help out the animals used in showbiz, both by setting up several animal sanctuaries and by forcing the state of California into passing a new law concerning how animals kept in captivity were to be treated.

PAWS explains that Pat Derby was diagnosed with throat cancer back in July of 2010, and that immediately after, she underwent radiation treatment and chemotherapy.

However, these medical procedures did little to help her on the long run, meaning that, despite the doctors' best efforts, the cancer made a comeback in the fall of 2012.

“It is impossible for us to imagine a world without Pat Derby, PAWS without Pat Derby, but she chose, and trained, her support team well, and under the leadership of Ed Stewart, Pat's dreams and visions will be kelp alive, her advocacy for animals will continue and PAWS will move forward,” the organization stated.

“Pat Derby was a partner, leader, mentor, teacher and friend. She was the first to champion the cause of performing animals, and today, because of her tireless work, and fierce determination, most animal protection organizations now have captive wildlife programs that address the issues of performing animals,” PAWS went on to add. 

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