In the Community: May 2020

Sometimes, the best community service emerges from the community itself. When that happens, partnerships are often formed that result in multiple wins. So it was for Eastside Animal Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Rudy, whose owner was a recipient of an MSACF grant, poses
postsurgery. (Photo courtesy of Eastside Animal Hospital)

Threefold Giving

Sometimes, the best community service emerges from the community itself. When that happens, partnerships are often formed that result in multiple wins. So it was for Eastside Animal Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

“Mark Sullivan was a client of ours,” said Katie Hayes, marketing manager at Eastside. “When he became sick and subsequently passed away, his friends Chris Wolfe and Troy Michell wanted to carry on Sullivan’s love and compassion for animals by helping those in need.”

In December 2014, after Sullivan’s death, the Mark Sullivan Animal Care Foundation (MSACF) was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Since its inception, it has partnered exclusively with Eastside.

“The love and companionship Mark experienced through his own pets over the years fostered a strong belief that everyone benefits through daily interaction with pet family members,” states the MSACF website. “It is this principal belief that drives the Mark Sullivan Animal Care Foundation’s mission of keeping pets healthy and in the arms of their family members even during trying situations.”

“MSACF helps people who don’t have the financial means to help their pets with the care they need. This includes the elderly, people on disability, or people who are struggling financially due to a major life event,” said Hayes.

When a client comes for an appointment, an Eastside veterinarian performs an exam and makes a recommendation. “This could be anything from wellness care to oral or soft tissue surgery,” said Hayes. “If the client is financially unable to pay for the needed care, the doctor decides if the client would be a good candidate to apply for MSACF.”

The grant request process is straightforward and relatively quick. The client completes a grant request application. Hayes then emails the application and an estimate for the recommended care to Wolfe and Michell at MSACF.

Approval usually takes a few days, or sooner if the situation is urgent. Once approved, Hayes contacts the client and sets up an appointment so the pet can get the care they need. (Given the approval process, MSACF funds cannot be used for emergency or walk-in situations.)

“We have so many success stories,” Hayes said. “One in particular involved Rudy, a shih tzu.” His owner noticed that Rudy was squinting his left eye.

After his exam, it was determined that Rudy had a descemetocele and was on the verge of ocular rupture. Without the help of MSACF, enucleation would not have been financially feasible for Rudy’s family. Rudy’s surgery was successful. He is pain-free and, in Hayes’s words, “is living his best life.”

So often, community service gives back to a practice in intangible ways, such as goodwill in the community, a sense of mission and purpose for the staff, and more. In this instance, there is a triple win. Eastside is able to obtain funding for client services. A pet’s needs are taken care of. And a beloved friend and family member’s compassion lives on.

Have a good story for In the Community? Share it with us at trends@aaha.org.

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