AVMF disaster relief fund open to veterinarians financially impacted by hurricanes

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Veterinarians experiencing financial hardships as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita can apply for economic relief from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund. The AVMF board of directors in October voted to broaden the fund's eligibility requirements for receiving grants of up to $2,000.

The directors reasoned that the implicit intent of the fund, established in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, is to aid veterinarians and veterinary practices to ensure a functional veterinary infrastructure.

According to a resolution the board passed explaining the decision, "(S)evere damage to the veterinary infrastructure can significantly impact the ability to deliver veterinary services; and operational veterinary facilities, trained support personnel, and financial stability are all necessary components of a functional veterinary infrastructure."

As of October, more than $860,000 had been donated to the AVMF disaster relief fund; the AVMA pledge of $500,000 in matching contributions, added to the more than $860,000, put the fund well beyond the initial million-dollar goal set by the AVMF board.

Of that amount, Merial Ltd. has donated $200,000 to the AVMF disaster relief fund and an additional $50,000 for the AVMF general fund. Merial has pledged up to $250,000 in further donations to the AVMF, 95 percent of which is to be allocated to disaster relief, with the remainder going to the general fund.

The AVMF disaster relief fund will continue to pay for the costs associated with medical treatment for animals, animal care, AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams deployed to areas damaged by the hurricanes, and the teams' supplies and equipment (see http://www.avmf.org/html/GrantGuide.asp).

To be eligible to receive a humanitarian aid grant from the disaster relief fund, applicants must apply in writing, be a licensed veterinarian, and reside in a hurricane-affected area of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Florida, although other states may be considered (see http://www.avmf.org/html/GrantGuide.asp).

Additionally, applicants must show financial hardship exists resulting in one or more of the following: business and/or personal damages, a reduction in business clientele and/or income, or an inability for income to cover mandatory expenses as a direct result of the disaster.

The application form for humanitarian aid is posted on the AVMF Web site at www.avmf.org. For more information, contact Dr. Anna van Heeckeren, chair of the AVMF Grants/Awards Committee, at anna [dot] vanheeckerenatgmail [dot] com, with "2K2005H" and the applicant's name on the subject line.