The American Veterinary Medical Foundation recently announced it would continue to help fund animal disaster preparedness and response efforts in 2007 through a number of states, along with the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams.
So far in 2007, grant awards totaling $155,000 were approved for distribution to 10 states, and the AVMA will receive $215,000 to help fund the VMATs. States are chosen by the AVMF Grants and Awards Committee, which reviews each application for merit and scores it on the basis of various sets of criteria.
The grants were made possible through the AVMF Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund, which was established Sept. 1, 2005, to provide funding for disaster relief efforts in connection with Hurricane Katrina and future disasters. From Sept. 1, 2005, through Sept. 1, 2006, the AVMF distributed grants from the fund totaling $947,222.
"The distribution of ADRR funds in 2006 was large, as the grants provided relief in response to the 2005 hurricanes," said Lisa Tommelein, director of development for the AVMF.
Disaster-related funding is one of the AVMF's grant-making responsibilities. Within that area, disaster response was the focus in 2005 and 2006, and disaster preparedness is the emphasis of the 2007 grants.
Funding at state level
The Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation serves as one of 10 organizations awarded an AVMF grant this year. The $20,000 grant will go toward the Colorado State Animal Response Team, which was established in 2003. The foundation has received an AVMF grant each year since 2005.
"The funding of an office, staff, and outreach programs is a major project that demands substantial resources," said Dr. Kevin Dennison, director of the Colorado SART. "AVMF is one of the few national grant-making foundations that understands the critical importance of these issues and provides assistance to state programs such as ours.
"Our priorities now are to support local planning efforts, finalize some state resource coordination plans, continue and increase training opportunities, and provide additional equipment and supplies."
The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation was also awarded a $20,000 grant from the AVMF in 2007. The foundation received the same grant in 2006 and put the money to use through the Texas State Animal Resource Team, which it launched in February 2006.
Elizabeth Wang, executive director of the TXSART, said that in 2006, the money was used for travel and marketing material, including a three-panel display, which was unveiled at the Texas Homeland Security Conference and has helped to build the group's identity.
In 2007, Wang said, the TXSART will continue to use the money for travel and marketing material but will also focus on purchasing equipment for damage assessment teams.
The AVMF functions as one of several sources of funding for the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation and Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation. When it comes to VMATs, however, the AVMF supplies what may now be the only source of funding.
Dr. Cindy Lovern, assistant director for the AVMA Scientific Activities Division, said the VMATs have been receiving additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security, but with the move of the National Disaster Medical System from DHS back to the Department of Health and Human Services, that funding may not transfer.
Dr. Lovern said the AVMF grant awarded this year to the VMATs will primarily cover program expenses such as training, equipment, travel to meetings, and a large display at the 2007 AVMA Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
Grants from the AVMF Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund are possible because of donors such as Merial Ltd.
In August 2006, Merial announced it had set a goal to donate up to $500,000 each to the AVMF and Petfinder.com Foundation through its "Paws to Save Pets" campaign (see JAVMA
, Oct. 1, 2006, page 1076
). So far, Merial has donated $300,000 each to the AVMF and Petfinder.com Foundation and made plans to donate at least an additional $100,000 to each organization as part of the campaign.
"When you look at the mission of AVMF, it is very much in line with what 'Paws to Save Pets' is now about," said Philip Dolan, director for Frontline and Heartgard at Merial. "We felt rather than competing against AVMF for attention and money for the cause, we thought what better thing to do than to actually partner with them."
As a result of the success from the "Paws to Save Pets" campaign in 2006 and the "Race to Save Pets" campaign in 2005, Merial has planned an even larger campaign for 2007. Along with the in-clinic campaign, Dolan said, the company will also build awareness for the cause outside the clinics. Plus, the campaign will run 12 months as opposed to four months, with this year's campaign having kicked off in January.
Veterinarians can learn more about "Paws to Save Pets" and how to participate by logging on to the AVMF Web site at www.avmf.org and clicking on the campaign logo. The Web site also offers guidelines for states on how to submit applications for funding through the AVMF Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund.