Dr. Donna Cook was the first recipient of a $5,000 animal care reimbursement grant from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Her small animal clinic in Leslie, Ark., was flooded in April. She also earned a $2,000 veterinarian relief grant from the Foundation.
The animal care reimbursement grants were increased from $2,000 earlier this year because, at the time, major disasters were causing veterinarians' out-of-pocket animal medical expenses to exceed that total.
Dr. Cook's clinic flooded when nearby creeks overflowed after many days of rain. She was the first to arrive at the clinic during the flood, following a phone call from her alarm company.
"I pushed with all my strength against the door as the water was pushing back from inside the building and was able to unlock the door," she recalled. "As the door flung open, the furniture from the reception area was floating out past me."
Three cats and six dogs were boarded at the clinic at the time.
"I knew the cats were dead," she said. "As I neared the kennel area, I heard noises and began to trudge through the thigh-deep water even faster. I opened the door and was faced with six wet, scared, and very much alive dogs."
After reaching the pet carriers in the storage room, she loaded the dogs into the back of her truck and drove them to the nearest veterinary clinic, which was 30 miles away. The dogs were treated for minor lacerations and eye and ear infections. All six survived.
Along with claiming the cats' lives, the flood destroyed most of Dr. Cook's equipment. The grants from the AVMF will help her rebuild the clinic and purchase new equipment.
The AVMF offers animal care reimbursement grants for up to $5,000 for disasters occurring after Feb. 3, 2008. Veterinarian relief grants are available for up to $2,000. Both grants are funded through the Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund. Veterinarians directly involved in disasters may apply for each grant up to nine months after the date of the disaster.
For more information, contact Monique Buonincontro, AVMF grants coordinator, at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6691, or mbuonincontroavma [dot] org. Grant applications are available at www.avmf.org, under "Grant Seeking" and "How to Apply."