The Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association
Companion Animal Foundation
The Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association Companion Animal Foundation was launched in the fall of 2004 to help low-income individuals and families afford the proper and necessary medical care for their pets. Veterinarians initiated the Foundation in response to the myriad instances in which pet owners could not afford to manage their pet’s medical issues, which in many cases would lead to euthanasia of the companion or a situation where the human-animal bond was adversely affected. Many of these patients were treasured family members, and the lack of their owners’ ability to provide for their care was difficult for all concerned.
Statewide, there are a limited number of programs for pet owners to receive financial assistance for spay/neuter procedures, and even fewer for routine or emergency (trauma) care. One of the driving forces behind the formation of the Foundation was the need for a centralized and well-supervised source for assistance. By securing commitment from the veterinary community throughout the State for this program, the Foundation is poised to have a simple, structured, well-publicized assistance program, as well as assure the project’s sustainability through ongoing contributions. There is a tremendous interest in animal welfare issues across the nation, with more than 5,000 animal-related organizations in the United States alone, and the Board is confident this will aid its fundraising efforts.
It is the principle goal of the RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation to generate grassroots support and involvement throughout Rhode Island for this project. The Foundation is seeking to raise sufficient funds to offer annual grants-in-aid to veterinarians across the State. Criteria for granting funds have been developed jointly by the veterinarians and non-veterinarians on the Board. Grants-in-aid have been distributed annually to veterinarians since December, 2005. Scores of pets have already benefited from the program and received both routine and life-saving treatments.
In its first year, the Foundation has chosen to operate very modestly, without full-time staff or leased office space. It is a volunteer-driven program that has already had a very positive community response. Two spring golf tournaments have raised more than $30,000, individuals have contributed more than $15,000 and foundations have provided $33,000. Additionally, the Providence Journal has done a story on the Foundation and run two op-ed pieces. Donation boxes for the Foundation have been distributed to veterinary clinics and hospitals statewide and a memorial contribution program has been started for veterinarians who wish to make gifts when a client’s beloved pet passes away. A website has also been launched.
The Foundation has made good progress toward its goals. It has established an identity, begun to raise money and public awareness and has conducted outreach to the veterinary community and public at large. The amount of funding each veterinarian has access to is directly related to the amount of money that is raised. Please consider supporting our efforts with a charitable contribution. Visit www.companionanimalfoundation.org All donations to the Companion Animal Foundation are fully tax deductible.