It’s the kind of case that can break a vet’s heart: an 11-week-old puppy named Chubby is brought in to a Paradise, California animal hospital with second-degree burns covering a quarter of his body. He’d been next to a welding business when it exploded, and his owner gave him up when he discovered how much the treatment would cost.
But don’t reach for the tissues yet. This story has a happy ending, thanks in part to the Helping Pets Fund, a charity set up by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) in 2005. The fund helps families with financial problems afford medical care for their pets, as well as vets who treat injured or sick strays.
The AAHA accredits veterinary practices that meet certain standards, and about 3,000 hospitals nationwide have its seal of approval.
“Most of the cases are cats and dogs, but any animal considered a pet is eligible,” says Jason Merrihew, marketing communications coordinator for AAHA. “That includes miniature horses, ferrets, pigs, lizards, and birds.” Strays who’ve been hit by cars are common beneficiaries, says Merrihew.
So far, the fund has funneled upwards of half a million dollars to more than 2,000 pets. Grants are capped at $700 each year for a vet practice that treats a stray, and $500 a year for a family who needs help with vet bills.
And what about Chubby?
As for Chubby, the puppy who suffered those serious burns? After more than two months of treatment–including two skin graft surgeries, many bandage changes, and lots of physical therapy–he’s up and about, “hoovering” the floor for fallen morsels like any healthy Lab puppy. The vet practice that took him in has covered part of the cost, along with donations from the community.
Next comes hip surgery to help him move around more comfortably, and the fund will help pay for that, too.
The final touch in this happy ending: Chubby no longer needs a home. One of the doctors at Companions Animal Hospital, where he was treated, has adopted him.
No dog lover wants to face the choice made by Chubby’s family. Find out more about the pros and cons of pet health insurance.
How to give
The AAHA will match any contribution that comes in before the end of the year, up to a total of $15,000. You can donate online.
The fund only covers treatment for serious injuries and illnesses, not
routine exams and vaccinations. To qualify, your vet should be a member of an AAHA-accredited practice, and you need to meet one of the following criteria:
- You get government assistance for low-income individuals
- You’ve got temporary financial problems, such as medical bills of your own
- You found an injured or sick stray
How to apply
The AAHA only accepts applications from AAHA-accredited vet practices, not individuals. To apply, you’ll need to take your pet to an accredited vet and ask them about submitting an application for you. To learn more, visit the Helping Pets Fund site.