By Katie Burns
Posted Aug. 18, 2010
A new program will help reimburse veterinary clinics near the Gulf of Mexico that provide free services for pets belonging to people suffering financially because of the oil spill.
The program also will provide pet food to some of the animal shelters in the region that have seen relinquishments resulting from the hardships of the oil spill.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation partnered with Hill's Pet Nutrition and Merial's Paws to Save Pets program to create the Gulf Coast Pet Relief Program. The AVMF announced the new program during the AVMA Annual Convention.
"Our hope is to ease the pet care challenges families and shelters in the Gulf are facing by providing funding and resources for food and medical care," said Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director, in a press release.
The pet relief program, which falls under the AVMF Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund, will provide $145,000 worth of funding and food to 90 veterinary clinics and five shelters in the Gulf region.
At a press conference during the AVMA Annual Convention, Cathey noted that the AVMF has heard from other potential partners for the program.
Neil Thompson, Hill's chief executive officer, said his company learned that the oil spill was indirectly affecting pets after receiving reports of relinquishments from shelters that receive donations of Hill's pet food.
"Let's start looking at the other victims of this disaster," said Dr. Mary A. Bryant, Merial director of professional affairs. Merial started its Paws to Save Pets program after Hurricane Katrina to help pets affected by disasters.
Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, then vice chair of the AVMA Executive Board, inquired at the press conference whether the Gulf pet relief program would receive support from BP, owner of the oil rig that is the source of the spill. Cathey said he believes BP is addressing direct effects of the oil spill, in part by supporting the work of groups trying to save wildlife.
Information about the Gulf pet relief program is available at www.avmf.org/gulfcoastpetrelief. The fact sheet on the website lists veterinary clinics and animal shelters receiving support through the program. The website also includes the criteria and an application for additional clinics seeking assistance.