Since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast in 2005, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation has been committed to helping veterinarians deal with disasters before, during, and after they occur. The 2008 storm season wrought its own challenges, with historic floods, deadly tornadoes, and hurricanes devastating many parts of the United States.
Midwest flooding this summer caused billions of dollars in damage
to businesses and homes, as seen here at Athens Animal Clinic
in Columbus, Ind. Dr. Brooke Case, owner of the clinic, was
awarded $2,000 in relief from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
The Foundation embraced the challenge, by reaching out to assist veterinarians across the country. More than $65,000 in emergency funds was sent to veterinarians who suffered direct hardships associated with the 2008 disasters. The money helped veterinarians pay for clinic damages and out-of-pocket expenses they incurred while sheltering and treating animal victims.
On top of that, the AVMF continued to award grants to national and state programs to prepare for such catastrophes. By November 2008, nearly $455,000 was awarded to AVMA's Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams and disaster preparedness programs in 18 states. An additional $25,000 will sponsor five regional/state disaster trainings. In total, the AVMF has awarded more than $560,000 in disaster-related grants in 2008.
All of this is made possible by donations, a good portion of which come from individuals and Merial's Paws to Save Pets program. In 2007, 37 percent of the Foundation's revenue came from single donors. Now, given the weak economic environment, Michael Cathey, executive director of the Foundation, knows it will be harder to obtain donations, but remains cautiously optimistic.
"We're aware of these difficult times, but the Foundation's mission of embracing the well-being and care of animals is still very important," Cathey said. "Disasters are going to happen in a good economy or a bad economy.
"You could probably make the case that during difficult times, it is more important than ever to bring our mission to the forefront for all to recognize and respond to."
Cathey emphasizes the fact that donations are 100 percent deductible in the year of the gift, up to 50 percent of the donor's adjusted gross income. Donors also do not have to pay capital gains taxes on donated investments. Moreover, the first gift recognition program begins in 2009: depending on how much is contributed, donors may receive an AVMF pin or Veterinarian's Oath fine art print.
Most important, Cathey said, is that veterinarians across the country continue to appreciate the valuable contributions made by the AVMF.
Within the past month, AVMA members should have received an AVMF annual giving document with their dues renewal.