Chicago — American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) officials report the nation's concern for animal health since last year's hurricanes led to an influx of donations into the once-struggling charity.
CHICAGO — American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) officials report the nation's concern for animal health since last year's hurricanes led to an influx of donations into the once-struggling charity.
Roughly $1.75 million in donations has been received since hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita struck the Gulf Coast and Florida, says AVMF Chairman Dr. Tracy Rhodes. The report came during the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) leadership meeting last month in Chicago.
"It's amazing that it takes a disaster to revive a crippled dog," Rhodes imparted to AVMA House of Delegates members.
With its focus on disaster preparedness and relief, AVMF took hits from critics last year for reportedly overspending to gain the small amount of donations the foundation received. The attention led to a failed resolution for change and purging of the foundation's leadership, emphasized by Executive Director Paul Amundsen's exit.
Now with its charge for fiscal responsibility, AVMF officials report increased support for foundation-funded Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT). Last year's hurricanes not only spurred the first deployment of all four VMATs in history, the catastrophes highlighted the bond between animals and owners as residents in the storms' path refused to evacuate without their pets.
Of the $1.75 million AVMF handed out by presstime, $765,000 went to funding for VMATs, reimbursement of veterinarians' out-of-pocket expenses to aid animals affected by the hurricanes and humanitarian relief for practitioners suffering from related financial hardships.
The application deadline for veterinarians seeking AVMF assistance is July.
Yet despite their colleagues' adversities, a paltry number of AVMA members donate to AVMF, Rhodes says.
"I guess just like all things, I wish we had more AVMA members participating," he says. "If you only give $10 dollars, it looks a lot better when we have a higher percentage of people supporting the foundation."
While the apparent apathy might be linked to AVMF's alleged overspending as a charity, Rhodes insists there's been change. In the process of acquiring staff, AVMF hired Jim Clesceri as the group's business manager. He previously worked with the claims administration firm AVMA's Group Health and Life Insurance Trust.
In addition, Drs. Sherbyn Ostrich, of Pennsylvania, and Kim Nicholas, of Oregon have joined the AVMF board. Non-veterinarian Maureen Wilson, of Utah, now represents the Auxiliary to the AVMA.
While a fundraising director hasn't been hired, AVMF leaders says they're first attempting to develop marketing and business strategies to guide the foundation's direction.
"We're trying to still work on a business plan to see if we can come up with an organizational structure and employee base," Rhodes says.