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Fund honors deceased pets
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heartbroken pet owners and their veterinarians can keep the memory of a cherished animal alive through a unique memorial program.
Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine offers the Fund for Companion Animals Require Excellence program to honor deceased pets. Fund for CARE allows friends or owners of the deceased pet to make donations which aid MSU's Animal Health Center and improve the training given to new veterinarians.
Dr. Margaret Kern, associate director of MSU's Animal Health Center, said the program was started in 1989 as a way for regional practitioners to memorialize their clients' deceased pets. The program has since grown to where individuals make donations in the names of their own living or deceased pets and the companion animals of friends.
"The CARE program was started out of what we determined was a need for owners to feel as though we, as veterinarians and health care providers for their pets, really care," Kern said.
The fund is for companion animals who die of natural causes, accidents or are euthanized. It also recognizes living animals for the value they bring to their owners' lives.
"Owners tell us that it means so much to them to know that their veterinarian cared enough about their pet to do this," Kern said. "It means a lot to an owner to know that their pet was special to someone. It creates a sense of good will and a sense that the health care of their pet is something the university takes seriously."
To date, nearly $50,000 has been donated through the Fund for CARE.
"The money buys training equipment, allows the study of diseases and pays for library journals available to veterinary students, among other uses. The gifts to the CARE Fund are used to purchase diagnostic equipment and supplies that we would not be unable to obtain through our state-mandated budget," Kern said. "Gifts also make it possible for the veterinary college to support continuing education, shared technology and referral services for other veterinarians. Charitable gifts fund the discovery of new ways to combat diseases of companion animals and provide laboratories and expertise needed to train the veterinarians of tomorrow."
Susan Kuykendall, Animal Health Center administrative assistant, said the money is handled through the MSU Foundation. It is used to improve companion animal care at the health center and the education offered to companion animal veterinarians.
"Many regional veterinary clinics make donations that they send in monthly to memorialize their clients' pets who have died. The Fund for CARE sends each owner a memorial letter and a brochure that explains the CARE program," Kuykendall said.
About 35 veterinary clinics have participated in the program since it started. Although most are in Mississippi, donations have come from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Many MSU veterinary graduates have begun the program in their new jobs.
"The veterinarians see a real benefit to their clinics when they participate in the Fund for CARE. When their clients see how much their vet cares about their pet, they will come back to them with future pets," Kuykendall said.
For more information, contact: Susan Kuykendall, (662) 325-1342