TEXAS VETERINARY MEDICAL FOUNDATION

TVMF Latest News

March 2017

2017 TVMF Auction Was a Success!

The Foundation extends our most sincere appreciation to each and every person who contributed to the TVMF auction on March 4. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, auction proceeds totaled $19,762!

Once again, the auction process this year included the online/mobile bidding tool and continues to be a hit! Following the leaderboard has never been easier, and the Foundation remains grateful for friends who so exuberantly raised those virtual paddles. The total amount raised is a testament to the generosity of our members.

These much-needed funds will support the Foundation’s mission to advance public and professional education, promote animal wellness and humane treatment and uphold the highest ethical and professional standards. Generous supporters like you enable TVMF to provide emergency relief grants to veterinary students, help underwrite the cost of continuing education for veterinarians and educate the public on responsible pet ownership. Quality education means that veterinarians constantly improve themselves, thereby improving the quality of animal care they provide.

Your contributions are essential to the continued growth and expansion of these and other worthwhile programs. Increasingly, the Foundation is called upon to do more for veterinary medicine, and it is thanks to valued donors that TVMF is able to answer that call and supply needed resources.

Again, thank you! We look forward to your continued partnership. Please contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or ltibbitts@tvma.org if you have any questions about our programs or if you have suggestions for worthwhile projects that the Foundation’s Board of Trustees should consider.

January 2017

Call for Silent Auction Items for 2017 “Live to Ride, Ride to Live” Celebration

It's that time of year again! The TVMF Annual Auction is just around the corner, and your participation is needed in order to make this year’s auction a success. Please consider supporting this effort through the donation of an in-kind item.

Each year, the TVMA Annual Conference hosts hundreds of veterinarians from across the state. This year’s event will be held Friday, March 3, through Sunday, March 5, in College Station at the Hilton College Station. The silent auction is scheduled during the “Live to Ride, Ride to Love” celebration on Saturday, March 4.

Proceeds from the silent auction support all of TVMF’s mission-driven programs. These are programs that help build owner awareness, support veterinary student scholarships and provide emergency financial assistance, continuing education and special projects such as the TVMF PALS program, which gives veterinary care to pets belonging to low-income, homebound clients of Meals on Wheels in Austin, Dallas and Bryan/College Station. It is truly through the generous support and partnership of Texas pet owners and association members that TVMF is able to do this important work and champion the veterinary profession in an impactful way.

Even if you are unable to attend the TVMA Annual Conference, you can still take part in the friendly auction competition! Visit https://www.501auctions.com/tvmf to learn more, register to bid or view the auction catalog.

Should you have any questions about the upcoming conference or need additional information about how to donate an item for the silent auction, please contact TVMF at 512/452-4224.

December 2016

TVMF PALS Program Continues Expansion into New Texas Communities: Call for Dallas County Veterinarian Volunteers

On Thursday, October 27, TVMF kicked off the newest TVMF PALS Program expansion in Dallas County! The Foundation is so excited to partner with Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) Texas, an organization committed to providing Meals On Wheels services to homebound and elderly community members in the Dallas area. Mr. Tate and his canine companion, Callie, were the first Dallas County clients for this new service area.

TVMF extends a very sincere thank you to Dr. Jennifer Lukowski of Metro Paws Animal Hospital, LLC, and her technician, Sara, who both kindly volunteered their time and services to care for Callie.

“This is fantastic; Callie is fantastic; and I am just so glad to be a part of this program,” Sara said, “This is so needed. Thank you, TVMF, for setting this up and keeping it in motion!”

TVMF also partners with Meals on Wheels and More Central Texas (MOWCT) in Austin and the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency Meals on Wheels in Bryan/College Station to address the statewide community issue of low-income, elderly homebound neighbors who are struggling to care for their beloved companion animals. The goal of the TVMF PALS program is simple—to keep the human-animal bond intact by providing fundamental health care for animals belonging to homebound community members.

The TVMF PALS volunteers who give of their time and talents do so to help homebound neighbors who are at risk of losing their pets at times of crisis only because no one is there to help them. When a challenging situation becomes too progressed, the pet must be separated from their family. Neither the pet nor the pet owner wins when a pet is removed from the care of their homebound owner. TVMF and PALS program partners are striving to intervene before this happens, so these owners will not be deprived of the many benefits of a healthy, long-lived pet and the human-animal bond it represents.

“The positive impact that the TVMF PALS partnership has had on MOWCT clients and their pets is hard to put into words,” said Heather Allard, MOWCT PALS Coordinator. “It provides a level of veterinary care that the vast majority of our clients could never afford or access on their own. Beyond lifting the financial burden, it lifts the emotional burden, the constant worry that our elderly and disabled clients have when they know their pets need care they cannot provide.

“That value is immeasurable,” Allard continued. “It cannot be counted, but it can be seen in the joyful eyes and smiles of our clients every time we bring a pet home from their check-up.”

“The TVMF PALS program has brought a whole different level of satisfaction to my life,” said Dr. Chad Harris of North Austin Animal Hospital. “The ability to give pets care that would otherwise not receive any care is amazing and truly is in line with the veterinary oath. Through volunteering our time, we are giving back directly to our community and helping both pets and people in need. For me, it was a no-brainer to help with this program. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have in regards to this program and how it works with the daily veterinary flow.”

Clients are never required to pay a dime, and every individual served through this program is low-income. More than 147 homebound pet owners and more than 200 pets are served through the TVMF PALS program each year thanks to TVMF’s collaboration with Meals on Wheels partners, volunteer veterinarians and the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital. This program would simply not be possible without so many big-hearted volunteers. Additionally, a number of industry professionals lend their time, and countless community volunteers (including TVMF staff, trustees and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine students) to transport animal companions between their home and a nearby veterinary clinic for services.

Together, we are making a difference within our Texas community for homebound neighbors who are struggling to keep and care for their animal companions—clients like Mr. Washington. After laying his beloved wife to rest on their wedding anniversary, he was gifted a dog named “Blackie” to keep him company in the lonely days that followed his wife’s death. Blackie recently received her annual exam and a year’s worth of preventative heartworm and flea/tick medicine free of charge. The human-animal bond gives hope to both Mr. Washington and Blackie.

This is the heart of the TVMF PALS Program. We invite you to be part of it. Dallas County-area veterinarians, please consider volunteering your time to help. More than 200 pets and 150 clients are in need in the Dallas area; you can make a difference for these homebound families!

If you are interested in learning more about the program, how you can volunteer your time and future plans for expansion plans within Texas, please contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts by phone at 512/452-4224 or via email at ltibbitts@tvma.org.

November 2016

Mini Impact Report from TVMF

Thank you, TVMA members, for your continued support of the Foundation’s mission to care for animals, advance the veterinary profession and serve pet owners across Texas. We want to take a moment to share the impact the Foundation’s programs are having through our home state—and this is thanks to you and your generosity!

2016 has proven to be a successful and productive year! The Foundation has several milestones of which we are very proud and which we are honored to share with you. Since the beginning of the year:

- Two emergency assistance grants have been awarded to veterinary students, helping them to further their education;
- 203 pets have received wellness exams, vaccinations and a year's supply of flea and heartworm preventative, all at no cost to the homebound owner;
- Nine companion animals of homebound community members are eating pain-free thanks to recently completed dentals;
- $16,500 was generously contributed through the TVMF auction at the TVMA Annual Conference in March; and
- $40,000 has been raised to support the TVMF PALS program.

The total grant dollars raised for the TVMF PALS program is an incredible achievement and a testament to the need for this important program. TVMF has strived to increase funding to accommodate the growing need of the low-income, elderly homebound community members with companion animals who are desperately in need of routine veterinary care. In the last fiscal year, TVMF expanded into the Bryan/College Station area in partnership with the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency Meals and the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital and Veterinary School.

In October, TVMF kicked off yet another expansion into Dallas County with the assistance of VNA (Visiting Nurse Association) Texas, which is an organization that provides Meals On Wheels services to the homebound and elderly in the Dallas area. Dr. Jennifer Lukowski of Metro Paws Animal Hospital kindly volunteered her time and services to care for the first Dallas County pet to be seen through the TVMF PALS Program. Look for more details about our program expansion in the next TVMA newsletter along with details about how our Dallas-area TVMA members can become involved with this new service area.

TexVetPets.org is another TVMF/TVMA collaboration that continues to grow and provide positive impact for pet owners across Texas. This online portal is an initiative intentionally designed to support our TVMA members and the association’s mission to educate the general pet-owning public about the importance of regular veterinary care.

The collaborative efforts of TVMF and TVMA continue to yield meaningful impact for communities throughout Texas. We are humbled by your continued faith in the Foundation’s mission and humbly share these successes with our TVMA supporters. We look forward sharing more important milestones with you. Thank you, TVMA members!

October 2016

TVMF Trustee Spotlight: Everett Seale


TVMF has spent the past 37 years caring for animals, educating community members and supporting veterinary professionals throughout the state of Texas through mission-driven programs. Throughout the history of the Foundation, the Board of Trustees has been integral part of building strong community-based partnerships and programs that benefit both animals and humans alike.

Recently, TVMF Trustee Everett Seale, who is a veterinary diagnostic consultant with IDEXX, shared how he came to be involved with TVMF and why he personally is passionate about the Foundation’s mission.

“I’d been involved with TVMA as an allied (non-DVM) member for several years, serving as chair of the Industry Advisory Committee before a colleague informed me he was stepping down from the TVMF Board,” Seale said. “I was enlisted to apply and honored to be installed as a Trustee eight years ago.”

As to why Seale wanted to be a part of TVMF’s nearly 40-year strong history, he is clearly an avid animal lover who recognizes the positive impact of the human-animal bond. This passion is effortlessly displayed across both Seale’s professional and personal life.

“The animal health business has been so good to me, and I wanted to give back to the people who’ve made it possible for me to enjoy success,” Seale said. “You can’t expect to flourish in a system without engaging in efforts to nourish and protect that system. My Chihuahua, Gigi, is also an indispensable part of my life as anyone who knows me will attest. Just the love of a little animal is what makes possible all the commerce that sustains the veterinary profession. Being a part of the Foundation is just the right adjunct to my work improving clinical diagnostics in practices.”

“Pets have attained a position in the family that practically puts them on par with children, especially for Baby Boomers my age,” Seale continued. “Upholding the stewardship of animal welfare and health ensures we do right for those whose unconditional love is irreplaceable for so many. The TVMF PALS program, for example, is really making a difference in older folks’ lives to help ensure their companions remain healthy, happy and loving.”

The TVMF PALS program provides veterinary assistance to pets of low-income, homebound community members in five Texas counties—Blanco, Brazos, Dallas, Travis and Williamson—through a partnership with Meals on Wheels. This program has no salaried employees and is completely dependent on volunteers and community support. It is not at all uncommon to see a Trustee chauffeuring a precious pet from their homebound family’s residence to the volunteer veterinarian’s clinic for a wellness exam or some other type of treatment. Seale recognizes the impact this program is having for elderly, homebound community members who are in danger of losing their companion animals in times of crisis.

“Hearing the stories of homebound pet owners who have benefitted from the TVMF PALS program is very gratifying,” Seale said.

Although TVMF is reaching approximately 115 homebound pet owners and more than 200 pets each year receive services through the TVMF PALS program each year—some with little or no history of veterinary care—more than 200 companion animals are still on the waiting list. TVMF anticipates the number of clients served to increase substantially thanks to the program’s recent expansion into Dallas County and plans for growth into San Antonio (in the 2016-2017 fiscal year).

In addition to the TVMF PALS program, TVMF is impacting pet owners through free education—both through statewide events and through TexVetPets.org. Seale emphasizes that this facet of TVMF’s mission is incredibly important to the Texas pet owner community as TexVetPets.org provides timely, relevant and accurate information to pet owners at the stroke of a key. Pet owners are consistently seeking information about how to care for their animal family members as evidenced by studies that reflect how frequently the internet is tapped as a source of information. Through TexVetPets.org, TVMF hopes to better educate and equip pet owners so that the human-animal bond remains unbroken.

“I urge all veterinary practices to link to TexVetPets.org on their website and/or Facebook page,” Seale said.

In addition to TexVetPets.org, the Foundation offers education opportunities throughout the state, such as the heatstroke prevention events, as a way to educate pet owners about important safety tips for their pets. These educational events are always free to the public. TVMF’s heatstroke awareness events are especially popular. During these events, pet owners may specifically learn how to prevent heatstroke, how to recognize the signs of heatstroke and what to do if their pet overheats.

Together, all of TVMF’s programs represent the Foundation’s robust mission to care for animals, educate community members and support veterinarian professionals. When others ask, Seale gladly shares his excitement for the Foundation’s mission and encourages others to become part of the positive impact that TVMF programs are having within the Texas community.

“I have a lot of respect for the industry professionals and veterinarians I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” Seale said about his service as a Trustee with the Foundation. “The collegial environment in which we operate is like a warm blanket, and my fellow Trustees continuously inspire me to engage and make a difference. I encourage all my colleagues in the pet care industry to get involved. One of my associates recently joined TVMA and is now serving as Industry Advisory Chair. The Foundation is gaining a lot of momentum now, and all of the Trustees are very excited about opportunities to create and expand programs to reinforce the human-animal bond in Texas.”

TVMF thanks Everett Seale for his commitment and passion for the Foundation’s mission. It is thanks to the generosity and support of people like him that TVMF is able to better serve animals, pet owners and veterinary professionals across Texas.

To learn more about TVMF’s mission and programs, please visit www.tvmf.org or contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or ltibbitts@tvma.org.

 

Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program Selects New Candidates

Each year, the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) funds a grant to the Texas A&M University (TAMU) Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program (VMSRTP). These funds are raised through TVMF’s Buck-A-Year development initiative, which support the exposure of veterinary students to cutting-edge research within the veterinary profession.

Student fellows conduct full-time research during a 12-week period in the summer under the advice and direction of a faculty mentor. In addition to conducting research, students participate in field trips to other research sites to broaden and enrich their exposure to veterinary research. The program concludes with a research conference and a closing banquet.

This year’s TVMF grant recipients were Courtney Smith and Hannah Klein. This summer, Smith’s mentor was Dr. Aline Rodrigues Hoffmann (Veterinary Pathology), and her project was on the comparison of molecular methods in the characterization of Malassezia carriage on the skin of healthy and allergic companion animals. Klein’s mentor was Dr. Jan Suchodolski (Veterinary Small Animal Clinical Sciences), and her project was on dysbiosis and bile acid dysmetabolism of steroid responsive dogs with chronic enteropathies.

Smith grew up in Houston, where she lived with her parents and younger sister. Her mom is a nurse who worked as a veterinary technician prior to attending nursing school, and her father is currently enjoying retirement from the air cargo industry. Pets were a big part of family life throughout her childhood, and those pets included dogs, cats, birds, rodents and fish. Smith also took horseback riding lessons and participated in barrel racing during summer camp.

Becoming a veterinarian was a logical progression for Smith since she has always been fascinated by medicine and science—and especially passionate about how the two relate to animals. Throughout college, she went back and forth between deciding to pursue veterinary medicine or research. After spending time working in an animal clinic, Smith’s path to pursue veterinary medicine became clear. She found great joy working with animals in the clinic on a daily basis and knew a career in veterinary medicine would be a fulfilling calling.

Smith thoroughly enjoys veterinary school, and the one thing she likes most is learning all the things she has dreamed of learning. So far, microbiology and immunology are her favorite classes, but Smith is also looking forward to taking classes on dermatology and infectious diseases.

“I am interested in dermatology and microbiology due to growing passions stemming from my thesis work and interactions with the dermatologists and microbiologists at school,” Smith said.

When asked why she applied for the VMSRTP, Smith said she values the importance of research and aspires to continue research as part of her career in veterinary medicine. She also sees participation in the program as an opportunity to network with veterinary scientists and other veterinary students who are interested in research.

“I am actually a PhD student in addition to being a veterinary student, and I have been studying the skin microbiome of healthy and allergic companion animals as part of my thesis work for the last three years,” Smith said. “This summer, I was able to work on a project to validate the next generation sequencing work that I had completed previously. It was very satisfying to be able to confirm our previous works with new methodologies.”

Smith is inspired by the opportunity to learn novel things, make discoveries and apply technologies to advance human and animal health care. Through her experience working with research scientists, Smith has learned these professionals can have just as much of an impact on the quality of life and the quality of health care for animals as clinicians can.

Undeniably, Smith’s greatest motivation is her husband and their two-year-old daughter. Their family also comprises three dogs, including a terrier mixed-breed named Dixie. It is clear family is important to her. She has a lot of family in Texas, so she hopes to have an opportunity to stay at Texas A&M for her residency or post-doctorate work and eventually join the Aggie faculty.

Smith remains humble about her accomplishments and thankful for the experiences she has been fortunate to have. She won best oral student presentation at the 2015 national meeting of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. Smith also submitted an abstract that was accepted as a supported study for the World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology 2016, and she was invited to travel to France to present her work.

“I would like to thank all the veterinarians who have supported, encouraged and mentored veterinary and pre-veterinary students,” Smith said. “I would not have had these incredible opportunities or be as excited about my future career if it had not been for my veterinarian and veterinarian scientist mentors.”

The other recipient, Hannah Klein, is also a native Houstonian, where she grew up with her parents and two sisters. Her mother is an eighth-grade teacher, and her father works in the oil and gas industry. Klein, who is the middle child, adores both of her sisters. Her older sister works in Austin at the capitol, while her younger sister is finishing her civil engineering degree at Texas A&M University.

Klein’s family adopted their first family dog when she was nine years old, and she fell in love. Klein said she loves all animals, but she currently gives all of her love and affection to her six-year-old Dachshund, Oscar.

Klein has aspired to be a veterinarian since she was in grade school, not long after her family adopted their first puppy. She remembers writing a letter for an elementary school project about why she wanted to become a veterinarian. A family friend, Dr. Lisa Lowenstein, encouraged Klein and mentored her on her path to veterinary school. Klein even shadowed Dr. Lowenstein during high school, and then Dr. Lowenstein helped Klein with her veterinary school application.

Although veterinary school has been a challenge, Klein continues to appreciate the value of all she is learning and how applicable it will be for a career in veterinary medicine. She said her favorite class thus far has been neuroanatomy because students had the opportunity to work with live animals during class and everything they learned seemed so clinically relevant.

Klein heard about the VMSRTP program through school, and her interest was instantly piqued. What attracted Klein most about participating in the VMSRTP was the hands-on experience to help her determine if research would become a vocational passion of hers.

“I always knew that I was interested in research,” Klein said. "When I went to the University of Maryland, I worked at a research lab on campus and then spent a summer working with veterinary pathologists at NIH and loved the research aspect of veterinary medicine."

Klein is focusing on learning all she can and has yet to decide on a specific focus within veterinary medicine. If she were to decide now, she would likely pursue a specialty within internal medicine because of her interest in the GI tract. Klein also aspires to intern with a pet food company because she is interested in pet nutrition and the associated research being done to determine the best type of food for animals with different medical conditions.

Regardless of her focus within veterinary medicine, Klein is certain research will play an important role in her career goals.

“I am inspired knowing how important our work as veterinarians is and the knowledge that the harder we work and the more we find, the better we can serve our patients,” Klein said.

Congratulations to both candidates on their selection to participate in VMSRTP. We expect to see great things from both students in the future!

To learn more about TVMF’s mission and programs, please visit www.tvmf.org or contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or ltibbitts@tvma.org.

September 2016

TVMF Trustee Spotlight: Student Representative Susan Stallones

While TVMF was established as the philanthropic partner of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, the Foundation proudly spearheads several of its own programs dedicated to the health and welfare of animals in Texas. Each program is an integral part of the Foundation’s mission to help care for animals, educate community members and support veterinarian professionals throughout the state of Texas.

These initiatives are provided in partnership with other community collaborations, including the support and commitment of TVMF’s Board of Trustees. Throughout the 37-year history of the Foundation, the Board of Trustees has remained committed to building strong community-based partnerships and programs that benefit both animals and humans alike.

One area in which TVMF remains passionate is through the support of veterinary students, so much so that the Foundation requested that two student representatives from the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine join the Board of Trustees. Student representative Susan Stallones recently shared how she became involved in the Foundation’s mission-driven work and why she thinks TVMF is making a difference in communities through Texas.

“When I first started veterinary school, I was nervous, excited and couldn’t wait to start working toward my future career,” Stallones said. “I received the gift of a stethoscope from TVMF during the orientation to vet school (something TVMF does for every class), and I immediately became intrigued about the organization. I soon learned about the Foundation and decided I wanted to become involved with this organization because of the activities they participate in, the support they give the veterinary community and the assistance they provide the public.”

According to Stallones, programs that include TVMF’s pet owner education events and TexVetPets.org are making a significant impact for pet owners and veterinary professionals across the state of Texas. She believes the inclusiveness that TVMF programs foster really makes a difference between the pet, pet owner and veterinary professional.

“The thing that excites me the most about TVMF’s mission is that they are encompassing veterinarians, clients and pets in their efforts to improve care and education,” Stallones said. “They are supporting the cause of effectively caring for pets by not only supporting the animal and the client through accurate information but also by providing support to veterinarians and veterinary students. As a student, I am directly impacted by the support from TVMF, and it encourages me and other students to become more involved.”

Stallones’ response to TVMF’s mission and programs is exactly why the Foundation continues to convey the importance of reaching out to veterinary students and helping instill within them a sense of belonging within their community while underscoring that every veterinary student has something to give back. TVMF strives to encourage these young professionals to continue developing their philanthropic spirits beyond school and to take that sense of community with them as they move into new geographic regions to begin their professional careers.

“During my time as a TVMF representative, I have learned the importance of giving back to the community and supporting those who cannot afford access to veterinary services,” Stallones said. “Connecting the community to the field of veterinary medicine has been one of the most enlightening aspects of my experience. In three years, when I am a veterinarian, I think I will be a much more well-rounded doctor as a result of this position, and I hope to continue the good provided by TVMF.”

When others ask Stallones about her involvement with TVMF, she happily shares her excitement about the Foundation’s mission and impact and encourages her peers to become more involved.

“I tell my classmates to support TVMF because they are here to support our future careers and our field of veterinary medicine,” Stallones said. “They are a current and future source of information, tips and assistance for veterinarians and students.

“I have really enjoyed witnessing the effect TVMF has had on Texas,” Stallones continued. “From honoring pets to providing veterinary care to the pets of the elderly to providing support to veterinary students, I am proud to be a member of the Board of Trustees.”

To learn more about TVMF’s mission and programs, please visit www.tvmf.org or contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or ltibbitts@tvma.org.

August 2016

Calling All Heroes!

TVMF is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Texas Animal Hall of Fame. Through the Texas Animal Hall of Fame, TVMF has the privilege of recognizing a few of our incredible animal companions each year while also celebrating the human-animal bond with veterinarians and the public. If you have treated an animal that has displayed heroism or remarkable loyalty or service, please take the time to nominate the animal for the Texas Animal Hall of Fame in one of the following three categories:

Hero: An animal that has performed an incredible act of bravery or saved a human life.

Companion: An animal that has provided a special benefit to its community or human companions.

Professional: A remarkable, specially trained assistance animal.

Click HERE to download an application. Applications accepted through September 15.

TVMF Trustee Spotlight: Scott Mellina, DVM

For the past 37 years, TVMF has been caring for animals, educating community members and supporting veterinary professionals throughout the state of Texas through mission-driven programs. Throughout the history of the Foundation, the TVMF Board of Trustees has remained committed to building strong community-based partnerships and programs that benefit both animals and humans alike. 

TVMF President Dr. Scott Mellina recently shared why he personally was inspired to be part of TVMF’s mission and how he thinks the Foundation’s current programs are making a difference for animals and pet owners in communities across Texas. 

“I had always heard about TVMF since I have been involved with TVMA since 1999 and served on the Board of Directors representing Tarrant County,” Dr. Mellina said. “Like most people, I wasn’t sure exactly what all they did, though.”

According to Dr. Mellina, the impact of programs like the TVMF PALS (Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors) and Rusk Emergency Veterinary Grants are some of the TVMF’s best-kept secrets, but word is beginning to spread! Since Dr. Mellina accepted the position as president in 2011, he has tirelessly directed the Foundation’s efforts toward fiscal stability, strategic planning and mission-driven program development. Part of this new direction includes more intentional support for veterinary students at Texas A&M University. 

“I am proud to say we now give quite a significant amount to the CVM through awards as well as others sources of student support,” Dr. Mellina said. “We give all the incoming first-year students stethoscopes, which has been a well-appreciated gift.”

Another program near and dear to Dr. Mellina is TVMF PALS, which provides veterinary assistance to pets of low-income, homebound community members. This program has no salaried employees and is completely dependent on volunteers and community support. It is not at all uncommon to see a trustee member chauffeuring a precious pet from their homebound family’s residence to the volunteer veterinarian’s clinic for a wellness exam or some other type of treatment. 

“The TVMF PALS program has become a huge success in Austin, and we have expanded to College Station with future plans for expansion in Dallas and San Antonio,” Dr. Mellina said. “This program alone has made a huge difference to the lives of these senior citizens who struggle to care for their beloved companion animals.”

Approximately 108 homebound pet owners and more than 200 pets receive services through TVMF PALS each year. Some of these pets have little or no history of veterinary care. Client response for TVMF PALS has been overwhelmingly positive with a waiting list of more than 200 companion animals. With the expansion of service areas into Dallas (in fall 2016) and San Antonio (in 2017), TVMF anticipates the number of clients served to increase substantially. 

In addition to TVMF PALS, TVMF is impacting pet owners through free education events. The Foundation offers education opportunities, such as heatstroke prevention events, as a way to educate pet owners about important safety tips for their pets. These education events are always free to the public. TVMF’s heatstroke awareness events are especially popular. During these events, pet owners can learn how to prevent heatstroke, how to recognize the signs of heatstroke and what to do if their pet overheats. 

“We have had community animal health education events such as the heatstroke awareness events held in multiple cities for several years,” Dr. Mellina said. “We are always looking for more was to be involved in communities, which will hopefully touch the lives of animals and pet owners alike.”

When others ask Dr. Mellina about his involvement with TVMF, he is not shy about sharing his excitement for the Foundation’s mission and impact within Texas.

“I [love to share about] our CVM support, and the TVMF PALS programs to help others understand what we do,” Dr. Mellina said. “People get really excited about the way we have supported homebound senior citizens [within our community]. It’s a slow education process, but it is successful. [I hope] TVMF will eventually become a Foundation recognized in Texas as a major supporter of communities and the veterinary profession.”

To learn more about TVMF’s mission and programs, please visit www.tvmf.org or contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or at ltibbitts@tvma.org

July 2016

Calling All Heroes!

TVMF is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Texas Animal Hall of Fame. Through the Texas Animal Hall of Fame, TVMF has the privilege of recognizing a few of our incredible animal companions each year while also celebrating the human-animal bond with veterinarians and the public. If you have treated an animal that has displayed heroism or remarkable loyalty or service, please take the time to nominate the animal for the Texas Animal Hall of Fame in one of the following three categories:

Hero: An animal that has performed an incredible act of bravery or saved a human life.

Companion: An animal that has provided a special benefit to its community or human companions.

Professional: A remarkable, specially trained assistance animal.

Click HERE to download an application. Applications accepted through September 15.

June 2016

Rusk Grants Continue to Make a Difference for Low-Income Families


The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) defines the human-animal bond as “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both.”

Purdue University expounded upon this definition by discussing the profound physiological consequences that occur as a result of human-animal connections. “People in contact with animals experience a decrease in blood pressure, reduced anxiety and a general feeling of well-being. The therapeutic value of animals for socially isolated individuals in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and prisons has been documented. People in the presence of animals are often perceived to be more happy and healthy.”

These definitions are a fancy way of saying the relationship between a human and an animal is special and should be recognized and nurtured for the special bond it is. Animal lovers know a pet is more than a fun-loving creature we take into our homes. These companions become part of our families. To pets, their owners are their worlds. They exist to please and love us, and it is our responsibility to ensure that these animals have the care they need to live long and healthy lives. So imagine how devastating it is for a pet owner to learn their beloved pet needs medical care that they may be unable to afford.

Thanks to TVMF’s Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grant Program, there is now help for these families in need. Through this program, low-income families receive emergency financial help to care for their pet family members in times of crisis. The program was named in honor of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Colton Rusk, who gave his life to save fellow soldiers in December 2010. Rusk’s bomb-sniffing canine companion, Eli, stayed with the fallen soldier until Marines arrived at the scene to help. The relationship between Eli and Lance Corporal Rusk exemplifies the strength of the human-animal bond, and TVMF could think of no better way to honor this bond than by establishing a veterinary assistance grant program in their honor.

This program is meant to provide supplemental assistance to a veterinarian’s charitable care for animals of low-income families or for families who have an undue financial burden due to extenuating circumstances.

Most recently, a Rusk Grant was awarded to support Ms. Moorman and her cat, Panda. Ms. Moorman is a single mother who is doing her very best to provide a good home for her children and their rescue animals. One of their beloved pets is named Panda, who everyone fondly refers to as “Snuggle Kitty.”



Ms. Moorman became concerned when Panda began urinating uncontrollably, and then her family noticed blood in her urine. They knew something was terribly wrong with Panda and took her to their veterinary clinic to find answers. Dr. William Watson from Tech Ridge Pet Hospital determined Panda had three very large kidney stones in her bladder. 

At just four years of age, Panda is still a young cat. Dr. Watson initially recommended changing Panda’s diet to see if she might respond to a less invasive and less expensive treatment. Unfortunately, changing Panda’s diet alone was not enough. Given the size of the stones, Dr. Watson said the stones needed to be removed surgically.

Despite Ms. Moorman’s willingness to pay whatever she could, the extent of Panda’s treatment was more than her family could afford. Dr. Watson applied for a Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grant to help Ms. Moorman and Panda when he realized the extent of care she needed. TVMF gladly approved a grant to support this family so the human-animal bond could remain intact. This is the heart of TVMF’s mission and why the Rusk Veterinary Assistance Program is so important.

Panda’s surgery went well, and the Moorman family is happy that their playful kitty has many more years ahead of her. If you know of a client in need, please take time to learn more about the Rusk Veterinary Grant Program, official grant guidelines and how to apply HERE:

May 2016

TVMF Rusk Grant Program Makes a Difference for Low-Income Families in Need 

Animal lovers know a pet is more than a furry creature that we take into our home. These feline or canine companions become part of our families. To pets, their owners are their worlds. They exist to please and love us, and it is our responsibility to ensure that these animals have the care they need to live long and healthy lives. So imagine how devastating it is for a pet owner to learn their beloved pet needs medical care they may be unable to afford.

The TVMF Rusk Veterinary Grant Program is making a difference for low-income families who need emergency financial help to care for their pet family members. The program, which was established in 2014, was named in honor of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Colton Rusk. Lance Corporal Rusk gave his life to save fellow soldiers in December 2010, and his bomb-sniffing canine companion, Eli, stayed with him until Marines arrived at the scene to help. Eli and Lance Corporal Rusk’s relationship exemplifies the strength of the human-animal bond, and TVMF could think of no better way to honor this bond than by helping other families in need through a veterinary assistance grant program named in their honor.

This program is meant to provide supplemental financial assistance to a veterinarian’s charitable care to support pet guardians struggling with economic hardship when pets are in life-threatening situations. Financial struggles can be stressful enough without adding the stress of a very sick family member, and those who own pets understand that these animal companions are considered to be a member of their human families.

A Rusk Veterinary Grant made a difference for Shammie, a hearing-impaired feline, and her owner, Ms. Baker, when Shammie’s veterinarian discovered several dangerous masses. Ms. Baker was unable to cover the cost of Shammie’s much-needed procedure, and the thought of anything happening to her feline friend was devastating.

TVMA member veterinarian Dr. Annmarie Macfarland of San Antonio applied for Rusk Program assistance on behalf of Ms. Baker and Shammie. TVMF approved the grant request, and thankfully Shammie was able to have the masses removed. Shammie made a full recovery, and the human-animal bond remained intact.

The goal of the Rusk Veterinary Grants is to help animals in need of immediate veterinary care. The maximum grant award is $1,000 and is intended to fill the gap between a veterinarian’s charitable contribution and any amount the family is able to pay toward the animal’s care. Decisions are based upon several factors, including medical urgency, financial need, available funding and eligibility. Please visit the Foundation’s website to learn more about official grant guidelines and how to apply HERE.

TVMF Trustee Spotlight: Chad Harris, DVM

Did you know that while the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) was established as the philanthropic partner of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA), TVMF spearheads several of its own programs dedicated to the health and welfare of animals in Texas? It’s true!

For the past 37 years, TVMF has been caring for animals, educating community members and supporting veterinarians throughout the state of Texas through mission-driven programs, such as:

  • Buck-A-Year Program – Through this program, TVMF supports the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program (VMSRTP) by providing scholarships to students, exposing these aspiring young professionals to cutting-edge research within the veterinary profession. 
  • Community Education – Part of TVMF’s mission is to educate the public on proper animal care and the importance of regular veterinary visits. TVMF achieves this by offering awareness events that are free to the public, such as TVMF’s most popular community outreach, Pet Heatstroke Prevention Awareness events, which are held every summer in various Texas cities.
  • TVMF PALS (Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors) – PALS is a program provided in partnership with Meals on Wheels (MOW) that enables homebound community members who are currently receiving MOW services to care for their dearly loved pets in spite of challenging living situations. Services are provided in the greater Austin area and Bryan/College Station. Expansion plans are currently in the works for Dallas and San Antonio!
  • Rusk Veterinary Grants – These grants offer financial assistance for low-income families in need of medical or surgical intervention for their beloved pets.
  • TexVetPets.org – Founded in partnership between TVMF and TVMA, TexVetPets.org is a pet health information website with an emphasis on current reliable and peer-reviewed content. Each article is written by a member of TVMA or the Texas Equine Veterinary Association (TEVA) and reviewed by two veterinarians. 

These programs, which are managed by TVMF in partnership with other community collaborations, provide many benefits for pet owners across the great state of Texas. To be honest, these programs would simply not be possible without the support and commitment of TVMF trustees. Trustee Member Dr. Chad Harris recently shared how he became involved in TVMF’s mission-driven work and why he thinks TVMF is making a difference in communities throughout Texas.

“I knew of the [Foundation] even before I went to vet school, as I was a vet tech,” Dr. Harris said. “It was not until after I graduated that I learned of all of the wonderful programs TVMF offered. When I started working at North Austin Animal Hospital, Dr. David Mouser had agreed to participate with the TVMF PALS program.

“Through the TVMF PALS program, ‘Community members who are low-income, elderly, disabled and homebound have access for their companion animals to veterinary care and pet food free of charge for the sole purpose of strengthening the human-animal bond by ensuring the health and welfare of these animals,’” he continued. “After treating my first patient enrolled in this program, I was a firm believer in TVMF. It was then that I became aware of all of the programs TVMF offers, such as the Memorial Gift Program, the Rusk Veterinary Grant Program, the Honor Your Clients program, as well as many others.”

Dr. Harris said he was interested in becoming a part of the TVMF Board of Trustees because he believes so much in TVMF's mission, which is to promote the well-being of animals and strengthen the human-animal bond in partnership with Texas veterinary professionals. He says TVMF’s mission aligns nicely with the Veterinarian's Oath. As such, he feels TVMF can greatly advance the care animals receive by fostering partnerships and collaborations between the veterinary community and the pet-owning population.

“Strengthening the human-animal bond is the most exciting aspect of the TVMF's mission to me,” Dr. Harris said. “As time goes on, pets are becoming more and more a part of the family. It is not just limited to dogs and cats either. I'm seeing more and more exotic pets ranging from reptiles to birds to fish walk into the clinic. If I can do my part to strengthen that bond, I have changed lives.”

TVMF remains committed to promoting and strengthening the human-animal bond, and Dr. Harris said TVMF helps both veterinary professionals and pet owners across the state in numerous ways through one or more of the its programs.

“The TVMF PALS program speaks for itself,” Dr. Harris said. “Any time we can help people and their pets, that is a win/win. [The Foundation is] also very focused on aiding veterinary students. Each year, we give the students stethoscopes as a gift. This is a huge help to many students, as they are not cheap pieces of equipment. There is also a great chance that the stethoscopes could be in use for a decade or more.”

The positive impact of these programs across Texas is exactly why Dr. Harris encourages others to support TVMF.

“Our motto is ‘caring for animals, advancing the profession, and serving people,’” Dr. Harris said. “Through the numerous programs TVMF offers, we deliver on our motto. The more support we receive, the more can accomplish these goals.”

TVMF was honored to welcome Dr. Harris to the Board of Trustees in 2015. When asked what he has enjoyed most about his tenure thus far, he responded with the following.

“So far, I've enjoyed the camaraderie with the other trustee members,” Dr. Harris said. “We are a collaboration of different backgrounds, both veterinarian and non-veterinarian, all focused on the same goal.”

Many of TVMF’s Trustees also volunteer with one or more TVMF programs, such as the TVMF PALS program. It is not uncommon to see a trustee member chauffeuring a precious pet from a homebound family’s residence to the volunteer veterinarian’s clinic for a wellness exam or some other type of treatment. These TVMF leaders are unafraid of digging into the trenches with other volunteers to ensure programs like TVMF PALS are making a difference for pet owners.

To learn more about TVMF’s mission and programs, please visit www.tvmf.org or contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or at ltibbitts@tvma.org.

April 2016

News You Can Use: Help Pets Beat the Heat This Summer!

Call for Veterinarian Partners for Heatstroke Awareness Education Events

Spring has sprung, and TVMF is gearing up for the upcoming heatstroke season and the opportunity to educate pet owners about the dangers associated with the scorching temperatures we experience during the summer months. Texas summers can be brutal, with temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees during summer months. To keep ourselves safe during these sweltering temperatures, we make sure to hydrate and wear sunscreen, but our four-legged friends also require some preventative measures to stay safe during the hottest months of the year. Many pet owners are unaware of how high their pets’ risk for heatstroke is during the sweltering summer months and thus do not take precautions to safeguard their animals.

TVMF partners with veterinarians throughout the state annually to offer heatstroke prevention events as a way to educate pet owners on the importance of summer safety for their pets. TVMF’s heatstroke awareness program supports our mission to educate the pet-owning community about important topics related to the health and welfare of animals.

Calling for veterinarian partners for the 2016 heatstroke season!

TVMF is looking for veterinarian partners to co-host heatstroke awareness events for the 2016 spring and summer season. Hosting an event is easy and fun! TVMF provides goody bags and helps member veterinarians with event planning and execution. Please consider co-hosting during the upcoming months (dates available April through July).

These education events are always free to the public and are a wonderful way for veterinary clinics to connect with local communities. During heatstroke awareness events, pet owners may specifically learn how to prevent heatstroke, how to recognize the signs of heatstroke and what to do if their pet overheats. Each dog owner who stops by receives information and a goody bag that includes an Iams pet food sample, Iams food scoop, TVMF collapsible water bowl, biodegradable poop bags, a heat index chart and a brochure outlining the signs of heatstroke, how to prevent it and what to do if a pet overheats.

Dr. Nancy Turner of Dallas recently sat down with TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts to share her experience after co-hosting an event with TVMF and urged other veterinarians to consider participating.

"Heatstroke is one of the most critical, often fatal emergencies that we see in Texas,” Dr. Turner said. “The toughest thing about heatstroke is that it is preventable. When we held our heatstroke awareness event in Dallas, it was amazing how unaware people were about the prevalence of heatstroke and what the signs were.

“It is also important to get the word out about how to properly address heatstroke since some common ‘tips’ that people hear can actually make things worse,” she continued. “We were able to reach a large group of Dallas pet lovers during our event, and I am so grateful to the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation for providing the materials, setup and support that was necessary to make our event a success.”

If you are interested in learning more about the program and co-hosting an event within your community, please contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts by phone at 512/452-4224 or via email at ltibbitts@tvma.org. Thank you for supporting our mission to provide fun and impactful educational opportunities for the Texas pet-owning public!

March 2016

TVMF Trustee Spotlight: Elaine Acker

For the past 37 years, TVMF has been caring for animals, educating community members and supporting veterinary professionals throughout the state of Texas. While the Foundation was established as the philanthropic partner of TVMA, many people remain unfamiliar with TVMF’s mission and programs.

TVMF’s mission is to promote the well-being of animals and strengthen the human-animal bond in partnership with Texas veterinary professionals. This is accomplished through one of three major program initiatives:

• Caring for Animals, which means advocating responsible animal ownership and educating the public about the importance of veterinary care for their pets.
• Advancing the Profession, including providing support to veterinary students through awards and grants and supporting select programs/projects that advance the art and science of veterinary medicine.
• Serving the People through the public relations and philanthropic functions of the veterinary profession and providing a contingency fund for disaster and emergency relief for the treatments of animals.

The programs managed by TVMF in partnership with other community collaborations provide many benefits for pet owners across the great state of Texas. Trustee Elaine Acker recently spoke about the impact these programs are having for communities statewide.

“When it comes to pet health and wellness, TVMF is in a [unique] position to speak with authority,” she said. “I believe educational programs such as the heatstroke prevention events are building awareness among pet owners about simple yet important ways to keep pets safe. These same events raise the profile and credibility for veterinary professionals statewide.”

Acker was introduced to the Foundation’s mission when she began working with Dr. Susan Culp and TVMF after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She served on a committee hosted by TVMA to help ensure that the state developed emergency management plans that included not only people but also their pets. During that time, she also worked closely with TVMF to help create educational materials for pet owners, to help veterinarians create effective disaster plans and to help establish new state policies and procedures.

TVMF was honored to welcome Acker to the Board of Trustees in 2014. When asked what she has enjoyed most about her tenure thus far, she responded with the following.

“I’m enjoying exploring the power of partnerships,” Acker said. “TVMF’s partnership with Meals on Wheels is just one example of an a-ha opportunity to make a tremendous difference in the lives of homebound and economically disadvantaged seniors. Too often, unfortunate circumstances eventually force elderly pet owners to give up their pets. Sometimes it’s because of the economic challenge of keeping a pet fed or the expense and lack of transportation to schedule vet visits. Simple collaborations like the one TVMF shares with Meals on Wheels are changing lives.”

Many of TVMF’s trustees also volunteer with one or more Foundation programs, such as the TVMF PALS program, which provides veterinary assistance to pets of low-income, homebound community members. It is not uncommon to see a trustee chauffeuring a precious pet from their homebound family’s residence to the volunteer veterinarian’s clinic for a wellness exam or some other type of treatment. These Foundation leaders are unafraid of digging into the trenches with other TVMF volunteers to ensure programs like TVMF PALS are making a difference for pet owners.

“I love the TVMF mission,” Acker said, “because while veterinarians are at the heart of the mission, there’s also a strong focus on educating pet owners to ensure the best possible quality of life for all animals and ensuring that future generations of caring veterinarians are well prepared to carry on TVMF’s tradition of excellence.”

Acker encourages others to support and help spread the word about TVMF’s mission and programs.

“I love animals, and I personally want to donate to organizations that I can trust to invest my donations wisely,” Acker said. “I want to support programs that are efficient and smart about how they spend my money. TVMF is very transparent about its programs, from disaster relief for veterinarians (including a veterinarian from my hometown last year) to educational programs for pet owners. If you want to make a difference, you’ll put TVMF at the top of your list of favorite charities.”

Acker is currently developing an online pet first aid course that will benefit TVMF. Watch for more information coming soon!

To learn more about TVMF’s mission and programs, please visit www.tvmf.org or contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts by phone at 512/452-4224 or via email at ltibbitts@tvma.org.

TVMF Offering Online and Mobile Bidding on Silent Auction

We have exciting news! The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) is offering online and mobile bidding for this year’s Silent Auction. Even if you are not attending the TVMA Annual Conference this weekend, you can still join in on the fun and support TVMF now that you may place bids online with your smartphone or mobile device.

For those who may be a little apprehensive about the new process, have no fear. Bidding stations and volunteers will be in place throughout the night to assist with the bidding process should you have any questions. If you are bidding from the comfort of your own home, instructions for online bidding can be found here.

Here is how this year’s auction will work:
• Register online at www.501auctions.com/tvmf
• Enter your name, contact information and payment method
• Browse the silent auction and choose from the many great items you would like to bid on. Bidding will begin on Saturday, March 5, at 6:30 p.m.!
• Place your bid on a selected item with an option of setting a maximum bid.
• You will be notified on your smartphone if you have been outbid.

Registering online is the quickest, easiest way to place bids in the auction, so we encourage you to sign up soon.

We have tried to make this process as simple and painless as possible. After all, an auction should be fun, with most of your time spent perusing the wondering items up for grabs!

The auction supports TVMF’s mission-driven programs to build owner awareness, support veterinary student scholarships, provide emergency financial assistance and continuing education and enable special projects such as the TVMF PALS program, which gives veterinary care to pets belonging to low-income clients of Meals on Wheels in Austin and Bryan/College Station.

Thank you, and good luck, bidders!

February 2016

Calling for Partners to Educate Pet Owners About Heatstroke Awareness


Despite cooler temperatures, TVMF is already gearing up for the next heatstroke season and the opportunity to educate pet owners about the dangers associated with the scorching temperatures we experience during the summer months. Texas summers can be brutal, with temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees during summer months. To keep ourselves safe during these sweltering temperatures, we make sure to hydrate and wear sunscreen, but our four-legged friends also require some preventative measures to stay safe during the hottest months of the year. Many pet owners are unaware of how high their pets’ risk for heatstroke is during the sweltering summer months and thus do not take precautions to safeguard their animals.

TVMF partners with veterinarians throughout the state annually to offer heatstroke prevention events as a way to educate pet owners on the importance of summer safety for their pets. The Foundation’s Heatstroke Awareness program supports our mission to educate the pet-owning community about important topics related to the health and welfare of animals.

These education events are always free to the public. During heatstroke awareness events, pet owners may specifically learn how to prevent heatstroke, how to recognize the signs of heatstroke and what to do if their pet overheats. Each dog owner who stops by receives information and a goody bag that includes an Iams pet food sample, Iams food scoop, TVMF collapsible water bowl, biodegradable poop bags, a heat index chart and a brochure outlining the signs of heatstroke, how to prevent it and what to do if a pet overheats.

TVMA member veterinarians have partnered with TVMF across the state to host heatstroke awareness events in their own communities. Dr. Nancy Turner of Dallas recently sat down with TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts to share her experience after co-hosting an event with the Foundation about why other veterinarians should consider participating.

"Heatstroke is one of the most critical, often fatal emergencies that we see in Texas,” Dr. Turner said. “The toughest thing about heatstroke is that it is preventable. When we held our heatstroke awareness event in Dallas, it was amazing how unaware people were about the prevalence of heatstroke and what the signs were.

“It is also important to get the word out about how to properly address heatstroke since some common ‘tips’ that people hear can actually make things worse,” she continued. “We were able to reach a large group of Dallas pet lovers during our event, and I am so grateful to the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation for providing the materials, setup and support that was necessary to make our event a success.”

TVMF is looking for veterinarian partners to co-host heatstroke awareness events for 2016 spring and summer season. Hosting an event is easy and fun! The Foundation provides goody bags and helps member veterinarians with event planning and execution. Please consider co-hosting during the upcoming months (dates available April through July).

If you are interested in learning more about the program and co-hosting an event within your community, please contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts by phone at 512/452-4224 or via email at ltibbitts@tvma.org. Thank you for supporting our mission to provide fun and impactful educational opportunities for the Texas pet-owning public!

2015 TVMF Texas Animal Hall of Fame Inductees

In 1984, the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) created the Texas Animal Hall of Fame to share the joy of the human-animal bond by recognizing exceptional animals. Through the Texas Animal Hall of Fame, TVMF strives to honor the outstanding contributions our animal companions make to human lives, to heighten public awareness of the human-animal bond and to allow animal lovers to share in celebrating their pet’s accomplishments by serving as nominators. Nominations are sought in three categories: hero, companion and professional. TMVF is proud to celebrate animals that give back within their home communities as we announce the 2015 Texas Animal Hall of Fame inductees.

The 2015 Texas Animal Hall of Fame inductee for the companion category, which recognizes an animal that has provided a special benefit to its community or human companions, is Dexter, a 15-year-old longhaired Dachshund. Dexter was one of the first animals to be drafted for service by the College Station nonprofit Aggieland Pets with a Purpose (APWAP), and he has spent the better part of his life making weekly visits to patients undergoing physical therapy at College Station Medical Center. Kit Darling, Dexter’s handler and partner in crime, serves as president of APWAP. The organization’s human volunteers and service animals provide animal-assisted therapy for elementary schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation hospitals and hospice patients throughout the Bryan/College Station area. They also participate in reading programs at South Knoll and Greens Prairie Elementary schools in College Station and provide stress-relief events for Texas A&M University students.

Dexter, one of the organization’s founding service animals, served faithfully for 13 years before retiring. His owner thought Dexter might be a good fit for APWAP after she began fostering children in the early 2000s. Darling fostered eight children and said it became readily apparent that the then-young Dexter always seemed to know exactly what the children needed.

“Dexter was always good when a new child would come to the home and they would be really afraid,” Darling said. “[Dexter would] come over and sit with them until they felt like they were okay. He just had a real sense about that.”

The little longhaired Dachshund also had a positive impact on the countless patients he visited during his tenure as an APWAP service animal. He has served as a reading partner for elementary school children. He has participated in one-on-one therapy sessions, making a grueling task for the patient less so. Dexter brought much joy to those he visited since beginning his service with APWAP in 2002.

“It [was] the most rewarding thing to see the joy that [patients expressed] working with Dexter,” Darling said. “[They showed] that they [enjoyed] working with him on movements that might be difficult for them. Dexter has been able to make a special connection with patients because of the unconditional love of dogs, which do not judge people based on physical appearances or handicaps.”

Bell, a loyal Labradoodle and service dog to Brian Weber, is the 2015 winner in the professional category, which recognizes a remarkable, specially trained assistance animal.

Bell’s owner, Brian Weber, is a physician assistant and 31-year Army veteran who copes with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Those who have known Weber for years notice the positive difference Bell has made for her owner.

“Brian seems calm, peaceful and happy now,” said Tom Selvaggi, MD, co-owner of the clinic where Weber works and an Air Force veteran himself. Staff members have noticed a profound change in Weber since Bell came into his life. Weber readily acknowledges the calming effect the loving canine has on him. Not only has his insomnia from PTSD been resolved but also he no longer needs any of the medications he was taking to help cope with this disorder.

Weber is a healer, and it would seem so is Bell, who accompanies her owner to work on many days. Bell has been fondly nicknamed “Mama Bear” by the clinic receptionist because the sweet-tempered Labradoodle seeks out any crying baby or upset child to provide comfort. A patient who had recently lost her husband came to the clinic for an appointment, and Bell seemed to sense her grief and wanted to comfort her.

“She is everyone’s dog,” said receptionist Kelly Patterson. On a day when Patterson suffered from a migraine and waited for her husband to come get her from work, Bell sat faithfully by her side until her husband arrived.

For those at the clinic where Weber and Bell work together, it is undeniable that these two have had a positive impact in this place of healing. As a trained companion animal for a veteran suffering from PTSD, Bell is evidence that these types of human-animal connections are positive and powerful.

Almost Here!

The 2016 TVMA Annual Conference is just a few weeks away, which means the TVMF Annual Silent Auction is right around the corner too. Get into the spirit of bidding at this year's silent auction benefiting TVMF, which will begin to accept bids on Saturday, March 5, at 6:30 p.m. during the Dancing Through the Decades Celebration. This year promises to be high in energy with the silent auction filled with spirited and generous bidders circling over great items such as hotel stays, veterinary supplies, artwork, jewelry and much more. Proceeds from the auction will go to TVMF. The Foundation is currently accepting donations for the silent auction (hunting trips, complimentary services, artwork, quilts, etc.). To donate, please contact Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or ltibbitts@tvma.org.

January 2016

Will you have the winning bid?!

Happy New Year! On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the people and animals served through one or more of our programs, thank you for considering an in-kind donation to the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation Annual Auction. As you know, TVMF works to promote responsible animal ownership, and it is through the generous support and partnership of Texas pet owners and association members such as yourself that we are able to do this important work.

Our mission-driven programs build owner awareness, support veterinary student scholarships and provide emergency financial assistance, continuing education, and enable special projects such as the TVMF PALS program (which gives veterinary care to pets belonging to low-income clients of Meals on Wheels in Austin and Bryan/College Station). Click here for a brief overview of our accomplishments for fiscal year 2014-2015. We celebrate these successes with you—as these milestones are most certainly thanks to professional and community collaborations of generous-hearted friends across Texas.

We are looking forward to seeing you at Texas Veterinary Medical Association's Annual Conference Friday, March 4, 2016 through Sunday, March 6, 2016 in San Marcos, TX at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Did you know that the proceeds from the silent auction directly impact the Foundation’s mission and programs? Your tax-deductible contribution of a product or service for the silent auction held during the “Dancing Through the Decades” Celebration on Saturday, March 5, 2016 is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support and for helping lay the groundwork for another successful year!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Foundation office at 512-452-4224, or email Leah Ann Tibbitts, TVMF Director, at ltibbitts@tvma.org.

Sincerely,

J. Scott Mellina, DVM

 

TVMF Board President

Happy New Year from the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation

The New Year brings feelings of reflection and hope as we embrace another year of service and partnership with veterinary professionals and pet owners throughout Texas. Looking back through 2015, the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) celebrated many accomplishments and blessings, none of which would have been possible without our friends and donors.

For instance, the TVMF PALS Program, which provides fundamental health care for the animals belonging to homebound community members, continues to experience tremendous growth. With more than 200 clients and companion animals on the waiting list, TVMF is working tirelessly to accommodate all homebound neighbors with the assistance of our community partners, Meals on Wheels and More (MOWAM) in Austin and the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency Meals on Wheels in Bryan/College Station. It was a banner year with the expansion of a new service area in Williamson County.

Shammie, a hearing-impaired feline, and her owner, Ms. Baker, were awarded the 2015 inaugural Rusk Veterinary Grant, which provides financial assistance to low-income families who need help to care for their pet family members. TVMA member veterinarian Dr. Annmarie Macfarland of San Antonio applied for Rusk Program assistance on behalf of Ms. Baker and Shammie. What a wonderful snapshot of TVMF’s mission at work!

What we have built with the partnership of our friends and donors spans nearly 38 years, and we want to extend our sincere thanks for your belief in our mission. As we embark on a new year, we believe your continued faith in our mission will inspire others to join our efforts to better care for animals, effectively educate community members and lend support to veterinary professionals throughout Texas.

We are deeply proud of the partnership we have built with community members throughout Texas. The support of our friends and donors enables us to more effectively advocate for the health and welfare of animals in Texas and reinforce the human-animal bond between pets and their human families. Cheers to another wonderful year of collaborations and service throughout the great state we all call home. Happy New Year from the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation!

To learn more about the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation, please visit www.tvmf.org or contact TVMF Director Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or ltibbitts@tvma.org.







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