January 01, 2013


 Times change, mission remains the same

AVMF founded in 1963 to help animals

​Posted Dec. 13, 2012

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation turns 50 this year, and while it has had many areas of focus and impact throughout the years, the Foundation remains tied to its original purposes of incorporation.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was created by the AVMA in 1963 for three purposes: to stimulate graduate study and research in veterinary medicine; to seek and maintain funds for furthering scientific, literary, and educational purposes directly associated with veterinary medicine; and to possibly operate a loan program for veterinary students.

The new Foundation’s objectives encompassed graduate fellowships, undergraduate scholarships, the Student Loan Fund of the Women’s Auxiliary to the AVMA, continuing education, publications, public education, and field investigations—clinical, preclinical, and economic.

AVMF Executive Director Michael Cathey said, today, the Foundation has translated these purposes into its five strategic areas of focus: humane outreach/animal welfare, education/public awareness, veterinary student enhancement, animal health research support, and supporting the AVMA and its initiatives.

“The AVMF has been and continues to be the vehicle and the strategy for veterinarians, the animal health industry, and the animal-owning public to directly support the medical care and well-being of animals,” he said.

In 2013, the AVMF will celebrate its milestone with events throughout the year as well as with the “Go for Gold in 2013” fundraising campaign.

“This will not only commemorate the AVMF’s 50th anniversary but also build greater awareness of the need for funding to grow and deliver our programs to support animals. The ‘Go for Gold in 2013 campaign’ is a perfect opportunity for everyone to come together to support our mission,” Cathey said.

Volunteers with the 2012 “Our Oath in Action” Volunteer Project help move pet food at a shelter near San Diego. The AVMF is hoping to expand the program to six cities across America by this fall. (Photo by Greg Cima​)
The AVMF’s goal is to raise $2.5 million and attract new donors through December 2013. More information can be found at www.avmf.org/gold.

Meanwhile, the Foundation’s five new task forces are taking on a slew of initiatives to further enhance the AVMF’s visibility and reach.

First, there’s the Animal Health Network (see JAVMA, June 1, 2011, page 1376), which is part of the AVMF Research Support Task Force’s charge. The network started in early 2011 with a species-specific pilot effort, the Cat Health Network, to fund feline health studies. The partners in the Cat Health Network are the AVMF, Morris Animal Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation, and American Association of Feline Practitioners.

The objective of the Animal Health Network is to raise awareness of the need for scientific health care research funding for cats, dogs, and horses, and to become the umbrella for organizations working on companion animal research funding.

The Foundation’s Research Support Task Force plans to expand the network by reaching out to reputable research organizations to join. It also will work to convene current members later this year to discuss progress and goals, and perhaps outline a list of the top major investment prospects, including corporate and individual donors.

The AVMF Community Engagement and Education Task Force’s project will work to expand the “Our Oath in Action” Volunteer Project to six cities across America by this fall. Since its launch in 2008, this volunteer-based project, held during the AVMA Annual Convention each summer, has been growing at a rapid pace. The goal is to help communities with shelter cleanup, but to also go beyond that into engagement of the community and veterinarians. Events might include pet adoption days or school visits to give talks. Preliminary plans would have these activities taking place on Make a Difference Day, held in late October.

An area of focus for the AVMF Disaster Response and Planning Task Force will be to build on the Foundation’s reputation in giving money to disaster response and relief causes.

Members plan to reconfigure the “Saving the Whole Family” program to better meet animal needs in areas affected by disasters. The program serves as an umbrella for the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Team program, which the AVMF sponsors; disaster-related grants; and the eponymous disaster preparedness booklet, available online at the AVMA Store.

In addition, the task force will soon start work on a program to assist military working dogs, re-evaluate existing disaster grants to make them more relevant, and continue to work with other relief organizations.

The America’s Favorite Veterinarian Task Force will launch the eponymous initiative this summer to celebrate the work veterinarians do every day. Details are still being finalized, but the program will likely involve veterinary clients sending in pictures of their pets with their veterinarian, along with a story on why the provider deserves to be America’s Favorite Veterinarian.

Finally, the Food Safety Task Force will take an opportunity in 2013 to inform, educate, and engage the veterinary community and the general public about the contributions veterinarians make to human health through food protection. This includes safety, security, and defense.

Dr. Robert E. “Bud” Hertzog says he’s “thrilled” about how far the Foundation has come in the past 50 years. He is a current AVMF board of directors member and former chair.

“We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, but I think we have a better, closer working relationship with the AVMA than at any other time. I feel great about the leadership here now. We’ve got everyone working together,” Dr. Hertzog said.

He added, “I think we finally have progressed far enough where we have more of a vision of what to accomplish. I feel good about the future.”