January 01, 2009


 Seven things you (may not) know the AVMF

For more than 45 years, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation has been the national foundation for veterinary medicine and animal health. The AVMF accumulates and disperses donations in a variety of ways, some of which AVMA members and the public may not be aware. 

1) Pet and Human Memorial Program

This unique fundraising program provides a way for donors to honor or memorialize a chosen pet or person while contributing to the Foundation. About 8,000 pet and human memorials or tributes are processed each year. 

Most commonly the program is used as a way for veterinarians to pledge money in honor of their clients' deceased pets. Often, pet owners also honor their departed companions in this way.

Not only can these tribute gifts to the Foundation serve as a tribute in times of grief but also they are a way to welcome a new patient, celebrate a recent graduate, or recognize a birthday or anniversary.

When a donation is sent, the recipient gets a keepsake kit, which includes a card personalized with the pet or person's name. It is in the mail within days.  

2) Merial's Paws to Save Pets program

One of the Foundation's largest contributors in recent years has been Merial Limited thanks to its Paws to Save Pets campaign. The campaign was launched in 2005 shortly after the hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast. Since then, the program has donated approximately more than $485,000 a year to the AVMF. In 2007-2008 alone it donated $580,000. In turn, the Foundation has used the money for its Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund.

At the Paws to Save Pets Web site, pet owners can purchase a collar for $10—$7 is equally split between the AVMF and the Petfinder.com Foundation, while $3 goes toward administrative costs. 

3) Subaru partnership

AVMA members may already be aware they are eligible to receive a discount on the purchase of a Subaru. They may not know, however, that $50 from each car purchase is donated to the AVMF. To date, the Foundation has received thousands from the car company through the program. To participate, AVMA or student AVMA members must purchase or lease new Subaru vehicles through a participating dealership. The VIP Partners Program is designed to allow members to buy a car at a no-haggle price of dealer invoice cost.    

4) Annual voluntourism project

Attendees of the AVMA Annual Convention in New Orleans last July had the opportunity to rehabilitate four area animal shelters still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The AVMF provided transportation as well as meals and T-shirts for volunteers.

The "Our Oath in Action" project was so successful, bringing out more than 100 volunteers, that it will now become an annual event. The next voluntourism project, yet to be determined, will take place at the AVMA Annual Convention in Seattle this year July 10 and 11.

5) Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund  

Since the devastation of Katrina, the AVMF has taken a major role in helping states become disaster-ready and ensuring that animals are cared for before, during, and after a disaster strikes.

In 2009, the AVMF will continue its efforts by awarding another round of disaster preparedness planning grants and disaster training sponsorships. Also, individual veterinarians may continue to apply for practice relief and animal care reimbursement in the aftermath of a declared disaster. New application forms, which were made available this past November, can be found by clicking on the Grant Seeking section at www.avmf.org. The previous form will no longer be accepted.  

6) Scholarships for veterinary students

To help veterinary students with education costs, the Foundation offers the money to first-, second-, and third-year students studying at AVMA-accredited colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States. Applicants must be student members of the AVMA to be eligible. 

Just last year, the AVMF had more than 100 applicants for the annual scholarships and awarded 10. This year, the AVMF will be offering at least 20 students scholarships of $1,000 each. Additional scholarships may be offered as well.

7) Legacy Society 

For those interested in the helping the AVMF through planned giving, there is the Foundation's Legacy Society. This distinction honors individuals who contribute to the AVMF through deferred gifts or lifetime gifts of $50,000 or greater.

Donors who don't have enough to make such a one-time contribution may transfer a newer insurance policy or purchase a life insurance policy and name the AVMF as owner or beneficiary. The gift can even be leveraged by donating highly appreciated assets, such as stocks or mutual funds, to pay the premiums. An income tax deduction is still received for the gift, and the AVMF can sell those assets without paying capital gains taxes.