Tough economy hits home for nonprofit

After seven years of helping both two and four-legged creatures in need, the American Animal Hospital Association’s Helping Pets Fund is closing its doors.

The organization will shutter its doors on June 30, or when the remaining $40,000 in the fund has been spent.

The AAHA Foundation Board of Trustees cited a decline in charitable donations as the cause for the shutdown.

Charitable giving in the United States has declined since the economic recession hit in 2008. Reports are predicting that it could be as long as 2016 before donation levels in the United States return to where they were before the economic recession.

According to the 2011 "Giving USA" report by the Giving USA Foundation, donations fell by higher percentages in 2008 and 2009 than at any other time in the past five decades. Individual donations fell by nearly 15 percent, adjusted for inflation, over 2008 and 2009.

Since 2005, the AAHA Helping Pets Fund has worked with AAHA-accredited veterinary practices to identify pets in need. Accredited practices have been able to obtain monetary support from the fund to pay for emergency and non-elective treatments for abandoned pets and pets whose owners face financial hardships.

Over the years, the popular Fund has provided financial support to more than 4,000 pets, using Twitter to tweet announcements of pets helped to its nearly 12,500 followers.

AAHA released the following statement regarding the Fund’s closure:

The AAHA Foundation Board of Trustees had to face this grim reality and voted to close the AAHA Helping Pets Fund due to the decline in donations. The Helping Pets fund will close June 30, 2012 or when the available funds have been spent (whatever comes sooner).

Although we are very sad about the closing of the Helping Pets Fund, we are thankful for the many lives, both two and four-legged, that have been helped, thanks to your generosity. Since its inception in 2005, the AAHA Helping Pets Fund has awarded more than $1,000,000 in grants. With these funds, we have provided assistance to more than 4,000 pets that desperately needed help.

As of May 7, 2012, the AAHA Helping Pets Fund still has approximately $40,000 that AAHA-accredited members can use for eligible clients/patients in need. Since many veterinary practices wait until later in the year to apply or try to ‘save’ the limited funds for really compelling cases, the Foundation would like your help letting them know about the available funds and June 30 deadline. Please encourage them to apply as soon as possible because the remaining money is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The process of applying for grants will remain the same. Veterinary practices will have to apply on behalf of the client/patient. For a complete list of requirements and to obtain a grant application, please visit Please send any grant-related questions to Tamara Fox at extension 449 or [email protected].

To view a list of pets helped by the Fund, visit the AAHA Helping Pets Fund website.