Even in the best-kept animal shelters, animals are bound to get sick from time to time. Plenty more animals arrive at the shelters with serious, pre-existing health issues; neglect and abuse tends to have that effect. Unfortunately, too few shelters have certified veterinary professionals on hand to treat all of them. As a foundation dedicated to helping animal shelters and the animals that they look after, Maddie’s Fund spotted this problem early on and has been helping to bring shelters and veterinary schools together to solve it.
The foundation runs a Colleges of Veterinary Medicine grants initiative that doles out funds to veterinary schools for one or more of the following: to research and develop new treatments for animal diseases; to coordinate with shelters on arranging for veterinary teams to visit their sites on a recurring basis and treat the resident animals; or to devise new courses, degree programs, and externship programs to train veterinary students in shelter medicine. Oregon State University, Purdue University, Tufts University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Pennsylvania are a few colleges out of many that have received awards under this program.
And the awards themselves are quite substantial, most of them running from hundreds of thousands of dollars up to a few million in some cases. Understandably so: The foundation expects grantees to carry out substantial research work and, ideally, to put solid new healthcare services in place that will attend to the health needs of neighborhood shelter animals for many years to come. None of this is cheap.
Oregon State, for example, received $150,000. It used the money to coordinate with shelters throughout the Portland metropolitan area on ways to effectively shelter and mange their animal populations while keeping them healthy, all without resorting to euthanasia. Meanwhile, Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine received $5.2 million to work with local animal-rescue operations on creating a comprehensive shelter medicine program with local animal shelters. Improving disease control, upping adoption rates, and recruiting and training more animal health professionals were all part of the program.
Maddie’s offers universities additional grants to establish new courses or degree programs in shelter medicine. There is the Shelter Externships grant, which pays a university up to $6,000 a year so that veterinary students can perform for-credit volunteer work at local shelters and receive stipends for their time.
A university could alternatively win a Shelter Medicine Course grant, which funds up to $15,000 to start new veterinary medicine courses with curricula tailored to practice at no-kill shelters. A third type of grant, the Comprehensive Shelter Medicine Program grant, pays a university up to $250,000 to create a new degree program in shelter medicine.