How the world responded to support bushfire relief efforts in Australia

The damage caused by the 2019-2020 fires in Australia is unprecedented. Entire communities were devasted, habitats lost, and species brought to the brink of possible extinction.

Recognizing the need to help its Australian colleagues provide immediate medical care needs for all animals and to help them recover from this devastating tragedy, the AVMA made a $25,000 donation to the Australian Veterinary Association’s Benevolent Fund. The AVMF followed with a $50,000 grant that was matched by donors to bring the total to $125,000.

VCA lends its support

During the month of January, VCA Charities collected donations online and through all VCA Animal Hospitals directing all donations to support animal welfare organizations assisting in the Australia wildfires. In total, VCA Charities raised $150,000 and allocated $50,000 to the AVMF to use as a matching gift for additional donations.

“During a time of need, VCA Charities and all the amazing associates at VCA Animal Hospitals want to be there to help pets, veterinarians and their communities. Through the VCA Charities Australia Wildfire Veterinary Relief fundraiser in January, our goal was to help veterinarians in Australia provide quality care to all affected pets and wildlife,” said Brandon Antin, VP of Corporate Affairs, VCA. “We are proud to work with the AVMF and AVMA to provide a portion of the funds to the Australian Veterinary Association and their efforts on the ground today and for the long process of rebuilding that is upon them.”

We’re pleased to report that AVMF donors met VCA’s pledge, which resulted in an additional $100,000 being donated to the AVA Benevolent Fund.

Members of the AVMA Board of Directors were recently presented with a $50,000 matching grant from VCA Charities and their team.

Veterinary students from Tufts University make donation

Students from the Veterinary Disaster Recovery Club at Tufts University held a bake sale to raise money for the Australian wildfire-relief efforts. More than $300 was donated, which was matched by AVMF.

An Ohio 5th grade classroom provides a lesson in giving

After reading and seeing the devastation caused by the bushfires 10,000 miles away in Australia, students in Ms. Hinz’s fifth-grade classroom sprang into action. Rather than just raising money, the students created books to spread the word about their fundraising and then went around to read them to others. Afterwards, every person who made a donation received one of their books. Together, the students raised $650, which was matched by the AVMF.

How donations are being used

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) Benevolent Fund—the recipient of these donations—offers relief for veterinarians and veterinary practices who have suffered in the disaster. This includes those who have lost property or had to close their businesses, as well as clinics fortunate enough to still be operating and able to help the injured animals.

“We are focusing on the practices in the communities most seriously impacted,” said Dr. Julia Crawford, president of the AVA. “Those practices are suffering, and we want to support them as they do triage and treatment, to look after native species that are coming in.”

Some veterinarians have lost their properties and source of income, and many others have been impacted indirectly by legislated road closures, power outages, and the like.

“Access difficulties delayed gaining a full understanding of the extent of our colleagues’ losses, but that is changing,” said Dr. Randall Lemin, secretary and trustee of the AVA Benevolent Fund.

AVA staff have been triaging calls from members, with the trustees intent on providing immediate financial assistance to those most seriously impacted. According to Dr. Lemin, all priority cases have been contacted personally by trustees to assure the victims that they are not alone in their battle to regain normality.

Donations coming from the United States through the AVMF have enabled the AVA Benevolent Fund to “expand our assistance packages immeasurably, and we cannot thank you enough for that,” said Lemin.

Although the bushfires have extinguished, there is still an opportunity for those who want to make a donation to aid with recovery efforts. Visit the AVMF website and use the AVMF code “Disaster Relief – AVA Benevolent Fund”.