Moving into the future
“These accommodations are relatively comfortable, but not 14-day comfortable,” commented Bissett, as he stood in a trailer with cots running down each side, all of them piled high with backpacks and sleeping bags. “This is 'home' for doctors and volunteers who deploy during an emergency. We set up temporary showers and bathrooms nearby, but better facilities are needed all-around.”
The VET’s budget covers salaries, supplies and maintenance, but not new equipment. Therefore, to realize his major goal of obtaining a new responder dorm trailer—which could cost up to $600,000 if properly furnished—Bissett must rely on donations. Another chief objective is to acquire small, truck-based units for use in the field. The VET’s current trailers—four ranging in length from 35 to 54 feet—are useful but don’t allow for the quick mobility Bissett desires. “The medical platforms I have in mind are smaller, but pack a big punch.”
The cost of these truck-based units ranges from $200,000 to $250,000. There are naming opportunities for both the responder dorm trailer and mobile units, as well as for another priority: a warehouse in College Station to house the unit’s equipment under one roof. Equipment is currently spread out in several campus locations.
Finally, the VET seeks endowment funding to secure its long-term future. There are opportunities for a director’s chair and for an operational endowment that could be used for equipment, supplies, training, course-related expenses and future growth of the team into other states in collaboration with partner veterinary schools across the nation. This $15 million endowment goal will provide permanent financial stability for the team.
In December 2016, the VET received a financial boost from the Banfield Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Banfield Pet Hospital. There are more than 900 Banfield Pet Hospitals across the country. The Foundation’s $175,000 gift will go toward the purchase of a truck-based unit.
“We so admire and respect what the VET does to prioritize response for pets in the aftermath of a disaster,” said Kim Van Syoc, executive director of the Banfield Foundation. “Their incredible work aligns with our mission, so it felt only natural to expand our disaster relief efforts into Texas and surrounding communities by supporting this exceptional organization.”
Another recent gift of $50,000 from the Texas Pioneer Foundation will support the VET’s Community Connections Course. “Students who complete the course take what they learn to communities all over Texas and the country,” said Fred Markham, founding director of the Foundation, which expressly supports educational programs. “The program exemplifies Texas A&M’s legacy of service and leadership.”
Bissett couldn’t agree more. “Look at what Aggies do,” he said. “They lead by example, standing up when times are tough. Texas A&M’s commitment to service and leadership is what makes it better than any other university. We’re proud that the VET is part of that Aggie tradition.”