Veterinarians who collaborate with their local shelters are just the kind of practitioners Richard Avanzino, president of Maddie's Fund, hopes to find. Maddie's Fund is a national foundation established by a wealthy couple who made a promise to their beloved dog that if they struck it rich, they'd use their wealth to help animals. Dedicated to ending the need for euthanasia in the United States, Maddie's Fund has a $300 million endowment so far and expects to receive as much as $1 billion. Part of that money will go into bringing private-practice veterinarians into the animal-welfare cause. "The resources of the private sector need to be brought into play to help tackle pet overpopulation," Avanzino says. "Veterinarians are the best-equipped to advise pet owners on wellness programs, spaying and neutering, and behavior problems. They can keep dogs and cats out of shelters."
Maddie's Fund is currently spending more than $500,000 in Las Vegas to pay private practitioners to provide spays and neuters for pets belonging to low-income residents. The money is also paying for a northern Nevada TV advertising campaign promoting the importance of regular visits to the veterinarian. Another Maddie's Fund program in New York City paid private practitioners to spay and neuter pets owned by people on Medicaid.
Veterinarians receive Maddie's Fund subsidies for spay and neuter procedures only if they're involved with a participating animal welfare coalition. A list of current coalitions and projects can be found on the Maddie's Fund Web site.