posted December 19, 2010
New nonprofit collects veterinary supplies for other nonprofits around the world
Seeing mountain gorillas in the wild helped inspire Dr. Candy Sayles Brad (background) to form Project VETS, an organization that collects veterinary supplies for nonprofits that seek to improve animal health.
Groups that care for mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in Africa and a group that neuters dogs and cats in Mexico are among the many recipients of veterinary supplies from a new nonprofit organization—Project Veterinary Equipment, Technology, and Supplies.
For two years, Project VETS has been collecting donations of new and used veterinary supplies for distribution worldwide to other nonprofit organizations that seek to improve animal health.
"Anything you would use in your day-to-day veterinary practice, you can be sure somebody somewhere is going to need," said Dr. Candy Sayles Brad, Project VETS founder and a part-time small animal practitioner in Boulder, Colo.
Two natural disasters and a couple of trips to Africa were what led Dr. Sayles to establish Project VETS.
After the tsunami of 2004, Dr. Sayles began thinking about how individual veterinarians could help address global challenges to animal health. After Hurricane Katrina, the next year, Dr. Sayles' clinic temporarily took in rescued dogs.
Then Dr. Sayles and her husband, Dr. Louis A. Brad, visited Africa in 2007. They met veterinarians and nonveterinarians working, with minimal supplies, for wildlife conservation groups such as the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.
Afterward, Dr. Sayles sought to help conservation groups that protect mountain gorillas. She made contact with Wildlife Direct, arranging to provide veterinary supplies for efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The arrangements fell apart with an escalation of hostilities in the country, however.
Dr. Sayles and her husband traveled to Uganda in 2008 to see mountain gorillas in the wild. They also met the veterinarian at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and they decided to make their first donation of veterinary supplies to him.
In early 2009, Dr. Sayles created Project VETS with a mission of providing veterinary supplies to various nonprofit organizations across the globe.
"The other goal is to stop throwing things away," Dr. Sayles said. "We throw so much away in the U.S., and we have landfills that are full of usable materials."
Project VETS accepts donations of veterinary supplies that are somewhat out of date, including suture materials up to five years past expiration, as well as new supplies. The program seeks used equipment such as autoclaves, incubators, and freezers. The program also solicits cash donations, partly to help pay for shipping.
Organizations in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe have received veterinary supplies via Project VETS.
Dr. Lawrence Mugisha, the veterinarian at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, said obtaining veterinary supplies and equipment is often difficult and expensive for the sanctuary. Project VETS has provided the sanctuary with a centrifuge and with consumable supplies such as suture materials, syringes, needles, bandages, and drugs.
Dr. Jan C. Ramer, regional veterinary manager for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, said Project VETS has provided her program with important basic supplies—including gloves, masks, drugs, syringes, and needles. Dr. Ramer said the Project VETS organizers are "very helpful, friendly, and willing to look for special items we may need."
Veterinarios Internacionales Dedicados a Animales Sanos, a U.S. organization that offers free dog and cat neutering clinics in Mexico, also has received basic supplies via Project VETS.
"Collecting and sorting through donations of supplies is very time-consuming and wasteful at times for us—as often we get supplies that we cannot use," said Dr. Ruth L. Parkin, founder of VIDAS. "Having a 'middle man' organization that can disperse supplies effectively is wonderful. We often will give surplus supplies to Project VETS so that they can disperse them to other worthy organizations."
Project VETS receives most donations from veterinarians. Donations also come from human hospitals, various companies, and other organizations. In addition, Project VETS has developed strategic partnerships with Leading Edge Veterinary Equipment Inc. and Purchasing Services Inc.
Information about donating or receiving veterinary supplies is available at www.projectvets.org.