The School of Veterinary Medicine students gained hands-on experience by providing veterinary services to a Meals on Wheels client’s pet through the AniMeals program.
Texas Tech University's School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo teamed up with Meals on Wheels of Amarillo's AniMeals program earlier today (Friday, Aug. 18) to provide preventative health care to a client's pet.
This marks the beginning of a long-term partnership as the School of Veterinary Medicine and Meals on Wheels continue to work with the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) to expand the AniMeals program and provide annual wellness care to pet-owning Meals on Wheels clients in Amarillo.
“This is a dream come true for me and Meals on Wheels of Amarillo,” said Susie Akers, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Amarillo. “I've been working with Texas Tech's School of Veterinary Medicine students, staff and faculty for several years dreaming, planning and now executing this important partnership. Many of our clients have pets that they aren't able to properly care for. When you are on a very limited income and can't drive, that makes it almost impossible to provide veterinary care.
“Partnering with the School of Veterinary Medicine and TVMF will ensure our clients' pets receive the basic care they need. Meals on Wheels of Amarillo started delivering pet food free of charge to our clients who need help feeding their pets almost two years ago. Adding the veterinary care piece just completes the circle of care.”
The School of Veterinary Medicine will visit Meals on Wheels clients and provide veterinary service needs such as physical examinations, diagnostics to test for diseases such as feline leukemia virus or heartworm infections, and provide preventatives such as vaccinations, flea, tick and heartworm medications. TVMF's Lending Economic Assistance for Pets (LEAP) program ensures the veterinary service provided by the School of Veterinary Medicine is at no cost to the client.
“The positive impact that TVMF's LEAP program has had on Meals on Wheels clients and their pets is hard to put into words,” said Leah Ann Tibbitts, chief operating officer of TVMF. “This program provides a level of veterinary care that most Meals on Wheels clients could never afford or access on their own.
“Beyond lifting the financial burden, it lifts the emotional burden, the constant worry that our elderly and disabled homebound community members have when they know their pets need care they cannot provide. That value is immeasurable. It cannot be counted but it can be seen in the joyful eyes and smiles of Meals on Wheels clients every time their pet is returned home from their veterinary visit.”
Allowing the School of Veterinary Medicine to provide this service gives students a real-world, hands-on opportunity to put their veterinary skills and knowledge into action while interacting with clients and their pets. It also is an opportunity for School of Veterinary Medicine students, staff and faculty to get involved and give back to the community.
“This has been a multi-year effort by a lot of folks from all associated parties to get to the point of delivery of veterinary care,” John Dascanio, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs and a member of the TVMF Board of Trustees. “We are so proud and humbled to partner with such great groups to serve the Amarillo community. In many instances, these animals are integral family members. Ensuring their pet's health also indirectly helps to ensure the health and well-being of their owner.”
The pets are being transported to the School of Veterinary Medicine's Amarillo campus for treatment. However, in the future, The School of Veterinary Medicine is raising funds to obtain a portable clinic such as a truck and trailer to provide onsite care for animals in need.