December 2011

2011 TVMF Texas Animal Hall of Fame Inductees

By Leah Ann Tibbitts

The Texas Animal Hall of Fame was established by TVMF to celebrate the human-animal bond and gives veterinarians a chance to recognize outstanding patients. TMVF is proud to announce the 2011 Texas Animal Hall of Fame Inductees. This year, TVMF received 10 nominations for three different categories: hero, professional and companion. It was not an easy task for the Foundation Trustees to pick just one winner for each category as all of the submissions had amazing stories.

Justice, Companion Category Winner:
Justice, a yellow Labrador who was donated to Patriot PAWS Service Dogs, is the 2011 winner in the Companion category, which recognizes those who provide a special benefit to a community or human companion. Brian Field, a disabled veteran, lost both his legs in 2007 while serving in Iraq. A single father of two teenagers, Brian had problems performing many routine activities and asked Patriot PAWS for assistance. And that is how Justice and Brian met.

Justice, whose training nickname was “Social Butterfly,” has done so much to improve Brian’s life and the lives of Brian’s children. Besides the personal impact on their home life, such as picking up dropped items, helping with household chores and helping Brian navigate the world on two prosthetic legs, Justice has also had an unforeseen social impact. Society teaches us not to stare at the disabled and the children were having a difficult time dealing with the public’s reaction to their father. Justice’s friendly face and obvious devotion to Brian became the icebreaker that changed Brian from a disabled person that people politely tried not to stare at, to one with a really cool dog that everyone wanted to meet. Justice’s presence has brought the entire family closer together.

Along with restoring independence and providing companionship, Justice has also given Brian peace of mind. When his sleep is plagued with nightmares, Justice gently nudges Brian to wake up. Her purpose in life has become to provide him with anything within her power that Brian might need and to make him feel strong and in control, a feeling he lost for a time. Nothing can make Brian whole again, but having Justice has eased his feelings of loss and restored so much of what was lost four years ago, far away in the sands of Iraq.

Kira, Hero Category Winner:
At the very young age of only 14 months, baby girl Riley has made a loyal friend she can count on for the rest of her childhood. Kira, a two-year-old female husky, is only a few months older than Riley and has already shown a remarkable devotion to her. She is TVMF’s 2011 winner in the Hero category, which recognizes an animal that has performed an incredible act of bravery or saved a human life.

On a scorching August afternoon, Riley’s mom chose to keep the family inside to play in the cool air conditioning. Somehow a copperhead snake managed to get into the house at the very spot where Riley was playing. Before the snake could strike, Kira jumped in between the snake and Riley, resulting in a bite on her muzzle. Animal Control was able to find and remove the snake from Riley and Kira’s home and the family arrived to the veterinarian within 30 minutes of the bite, as Kira’s muzzle was rapidly swelling. Even though Kira must have been in pain, while in the exam room she seemed to check on Riley by licking her face whenever she could.

Happily, Kira fully recovered.

Thanks to Kira’s bravery, Riley’s dad, who recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, is able to enjoy playing with his baby girl.

Riley and Kira remain the best of friends.

Mr. Bojangles Professional Category Winner:
David and Sue Daniel, members of the Search One Rescue Team (SORT), were looking for another bloodhound to add to their family and search and rescue team. They came across a funny looking 14-month-old bloodhound that had a head so large he resembled a bobble head toy. Eventually his body caught up to his head and Mr. Bojanlges, has been a dependable resource of SORT since 2001. He is TVMF’s 2011 Professional category winner, which recognizes remarkable, specially trained assistance animals.

Mr. Bojangles, the crime-solving sleuth, has helped save many lives and provided police with critical information to assist in solving crimes. In one such case, a gentleman with Alzheimer’s drove away from his home in Arlington and went missing. Missing for two days, his truck was found on the highway nearly 100 miles from his home. After a search conducted by the police and helicopter didn’t find the man, SORT was called. Mr. Bojangles was presented an article of the missing man’s clothes to help track down his scent. In less than 10 minutes, Mr. Bojangles found the man alive, though disoriented, under a culvert by the highway.

One other notable case Mr. Bojangles assisted in was a murder investigation of a woman who had been found stabbed in the middle of her street. A neighbor gave information to the detective that he heard someone go over his fence about the time of the murder. Armed with this information, Mr. Bojangles was taken to the fence and smelled the jacket of the woman that the murderer was thought to have grabbed on to. Picking up the scent, Mr. Bojangles trailed down alleys and streets until his trail ended at the culprit’s house. He is currently serving life without parole.

Mr. Bojangles continues working to this day. When the phone rings, he is the first one to load up and hit the trails!

Honorable Mentions:
A huge thank you to all of our TVMA members who submitted a nomination for this year’s Texas Animal Hall of Fame. TVMF would like to recognize the remaining nominations as well:

  • Lilly, a self-trained service dog that provided daily care and companionship to her wheelchair-bound owner.
  • Eli, a cat that teaches feline tolerance to service dogs trained by Patriot PAWS.
  • Oreo, a half Mastiff half English Bulldog that assisted his owner to safety after the owner severely broke her leg.
  • Strawberry, a sassy Roan Mare that, after 33 years, continues to patiently assist students of the Veterinary Technology Program at Cedar Valley College.
  • Dr. Danny, the remarkable sensitive cat with unsurpassed compassion for humans residing at Arlington Animal Hospital.
  • Larry, the service dog that has not only been his owner’s faithful companion, but also his eyes to the world.
  • Jezebel, a larger than life spirited cattle dog, who herded an angry bull that had trapped his owner against a fence with no route of escape.

This Year at a Glance

By Leah Ann Tibbitts

As 2011 comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our TVMA members for the support you all give to TVMF. Without your generous support, we would not have been able to accomplish the many things we did throughout 2011.

The year started off with the raising of close to $25,000 from the Annual Sporting Clay Shoot and Live and Silent Auctions during the TVMA Annual Conference.

The TVMF Board of Trustees made the decision to fund the veterinary care for life of Eli, a loyal Labrador who served his country and his owner, whom he stood by him until the end.

Wildfires raged across Texas due to one of the driest spells in its history consuming millions of acres across the state. TVMA members donated thousands of dollars to TVMF’s Wildfire Disaster Fund enabling TVMF to grant more disaster funds to veterinarians in need than ever before.

TVMF hosted its first community awareness event in Austin. TVMF Board of Trustees reached out to hundreds of dog owners to educate them about keeping pets safe in the Texas heat. Each dog owner who stopped by the TVMF booth received a goody bag that included an Iams pet food sample, Iams food scoop, TVMF collapsible water bowl, biodegradable poop bags, a heat index chart and a brochure outlining the signs of heatstroke, how to prevent it and what to do if a pet overheats.

With the help of stethoscopes donated by TVMF, a new crop of bright young adults begun their studies to become the next veterinary graduating class of 2015! TVMF also helped third-year students Amanda Martinez and Tess Whiteman with a grant to participate in Texas A&M’s Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program.

Memorial Gift Program
The Memorial Gift Program continues to be the lifeblood of TVMF. Thank you to all the veterinarians who participate in this great practice-building program. Please visit tvmf.org for more information on the program or how to become a participant.

Buck-A-Year Program
Watch your mail for information on TVMF’s Buck-A-Year Program, which is an annual gift campaign that every veterinarian can afford. Contributions made to the Buck-A-Year Program fund grants to Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program. TAMU’s research program ensures that veterinary students will continue to be introduced to research and the benefits research has on the profession and the practice of veterinary medicine.

Year End Contributions
With less than a month remaining in the calendar year, now is a good time to assess your income tax situation. Gifts to a qualified nonprofit organization, such as TVMF, made before year-end may provide you with a needed tax deduction while benefiting the profession of veterinary medicine. Gifts can be contributed in the form of check or credit card. Securities (stocks, bonds or mutual funds) that have appreciated in value or tangible assets, such as real estate or personal goods and services are also accepted by the Foundation. Deferred gifts, such as charitable gift annuity, can fulfill the dual purpose of providing future assistance to a Foundation project or program while achieving tax benefits and estate planning objectives for the donor. For more information on planned giving, please call TVMF at 512/452-4224.

Save the Date!
TVMA’s Annual Conference is right around the corner, which means TVMF’s Annual Sporting Clay Shoot and Live and Silent Auctions are right around the corner, too! The clay shoot will be Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, at 1 p.m. at Tonkaway Ranch. Don’t delay; register today! Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, will feature the End Zone Celebration with a Live and Silent Auction benefiting TVMF. Be sure to sign up for this social event for plenty of football fun! If you would like to donate to the Auction or become a sponsor for the Sporting Clay Shoot, please contact Leah Ann Tibbitts at 512/452-4224 or ltibbitts@tvma.org.

Hero Dog Eli

By Leah Ann Tibbitts

The Foundation has made the decision to fund the veterinary care for life of Eli, a loyal Labrador who served his country and his owner, whom he stood by him until the end. If you haven’t heard this amazing story, here is a quick synopsis:

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Colton Rusk, a Texan from Orange Grove, was thrilled by his assignment to serve as a military dog handler. When Rusk was paired with the loyal Labrador, the two quickly became inseparable - to the point of sharing the same sleeping bag. But last December, when Rusk and Eli were searching for hidden bombs in Afghanistan, a sniper fired on and killed Rusk. Eli threw his body over the fallen Marine in protection and stayed with him until other Marines came to their aid. 
The family of Rusk decided to adopt Eli and, though the dog cost thousands of dollars to train and was still considered operational, the military discharged him early so he could be with the family of his fallen handler.

State Representative Charles “Doc” Anderson, a veterinarian from Waco, relayed this touching story to the trustees of TVMF who decided to do their part to honor the memory of Rusk’s sacrifice to his country by helping to ensure that his friend receives all of the health and wellness care that he may need in the future.

This story of Rusk and Eli, which has received national attention, exemplifies the true meaning of the human animal bond. The Foundation is happy to assist with the veterinary care of this hero dog for life to honor his and his owner’s bravery and to honor Rusk’s memory.

Memorial Gift Program Video Online

The death of a pet is difficult for both clients and veterinarians, but it’s especially hard on your client. Helping them through the grieving process is a vital part of any practice. The Memorial Gift Program is an excellent way for veterinarians to show they care about a client’s loss by making a contribution in the pet’s honor to TVMF. The program is simple, tax deductable and helps fund the efforts of the Foundation, including the Emergency Student Fund Grant, dictionaries for new veterinary students, scholarships and the New Graduate Program. It also supports the Mark Francis Museum of Veterinary History within the TVMA building, and various other ways of educating the public about veterinary medicine. Nothing you can do will have a more positive impact on your practice and say “We Care,” like this program. Not only will it help retain current clients, but it will also aid in the recruitment of new clients. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising anyone can have.

For information on becoming involved in the Memorial Gift Program call the TVMF office at 512/452-4224, or visit the Foundation website, tvmf.org.

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