The American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Merial have partnered on an initiative to help veterinarians support struggling dog and cat owners affected by the oil spill that began late April when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
AVMF and the two companies made the announcement on Aug. 1 at a press conference during the American Veterinary Medical Association’s annual convention in Atlanta.
The Gulf Coast Pet Relief Program is part of AVMF’s Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund, a fund that is designated to support state and national disaster relief efforts.
The program will provide a total of $145,000 in funding and pet food products to help reimburse 90 veterinary clinics and five shelters that have provided free services and goods to clients affected by the oil spill.
“Pet-related issues in the Gulf continue to escalate, which is why we called upon our partners to come together to provide relief,” said Michael Cathey, executive director of AVMF. “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.”
The number of pets being surrendered by families in extreme financial hardship has skyrocketed since the oil spill with various shelters reporting up to four times as many animals being given up for adoption since this time last year, according to AVMF.
“We are all aware of the wide devastation [caused by the oil spill],” said Neil Thompson, chief executive officer of Hill’s Pet Nutrition. What’s overlooked is the multiple problems within the animal community, he added. “Families are giving up their pets.”
Merial is working through its Paws to Save Pets program, which provides emergency relief to pets affected by natural disasters, and supports disaster preparedness efforts for veterinary clinics and shelters. AVMF and Petfinder.com Foundation are the partner agencies.
“With ongoing help from the veterinary community, Paws to Save Pets continues to provide disaster relief assistance for clinics, shelters and ultimately pet victims,” said Mary Bryant, VMD, director, Professional Affairs, Merial. “We’re pleased that veterinarians can benefit first-hand from this program and help many of their pet patients.”
Cathey noted that AVMF did reach out to BP for assistance, but has not had a response. Pets are probably not on their radar, even though the oil spill has a quite rippling effect, he said.
View the list of veterinary clinics and shelters receiving support here. Additional clinics seeking assistance should contact the AVMF for reimbursement of their services.
For details on the program or to donate, visit the website.