Companion Animal Memorial Fund
An Expression of Understanding
When a cherished animal companion dies, the grieving process is very real and one that may be shared by the owner, veterinarian, family, and friends.
The Companion Animal Memorial Fund at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine was established to help veterinarians take an active role in expressing compassion by memorializing clients' pets and at the same time contributing to research that benefits other companion animals. As animal owners became aware of this program, its use has spread beyond the participating veterinarians. In addition to research support, smaller amounts of funding from the program have been used to support innovative teaching and service efforts at the college.
Uses of Gift Support
Since its inception in 1984, gifts totaling over $1,900,000 have been made in the memory of companion animals. These gifts support outstanding noninvasive projects and work by University of Illinois clinicians and scientists on conditions affecting companion animals.
Over the years, the memorial program has supported more than 35 noninvasive projects at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Most have been research projects covering a host of conditions in dogs and cats, which are the main species memorialized by the fund.
Projects have included studies of feline congestive heart failure, canine renal disease, recruitment protocols to improve the diagnostic quality of computed tomography (CT) images of the lung in the neonatal foal and the use of dental acrylic to repair canine jaw fractures.
The Companion Animal Memorial Fund program has also provided start-up funds for the college's oncologist (cancer specialist), assistance for training our veterinary dentistry residents, and support for our free, nationwide CARE Pet Loss Helpline. It has also provided seed funding to attract private support from foundations for alternative surgery programs and to purchase equipment for our teaching hospital.
How to Participate
The memorial program basically works like this: When an animal dies or must be euthanized, you simply contact the Veterinary Advancement Office, provide us with your name, address, how you wish to be identified, the animal's name and species, and the owner's name and address. When we receive this information, we send a personalized card informing the owner of the thoughtful gesture made by you in memory of their pet.
We suggest a minimum donation of $10 per client or pet that you wish to memorialize. Of course, gifts above this amount are welcome, and gifts may also be made in honor of living pets.
Each day, the college receives letters from appreciative pet owners whose animals were memorialized through the Companion Animal Memorial Fund. Often, these owners choose to make an additional gift. More and more often, the program is being used by animal owners who have learned about it to memorialize pets of friends or relatives. Gifts are also being made in honor of living pets by people who are simply interested in helping companion animals.
The following comments are just a sampling of the responses:
I received your letter today and words fail me. I had no idea my animal clinic made this donation in my cat's name. They treated her from a kitten to the time of her death--19 years! She has left a great emptiness in my home, but not in my heart. I will be in touch with my veterinarian to express my sincere thanks. To help continue your work and research, my check is enclosed.
I wish to thank you for the sympathy note from your people on the death of our dog. I told my minister that if the people of this world had the personality of the Collie dogs I have owned, it would be a better world for all. I'm pleased the contribution from my veterinary hospital was made in memory of our dog.
Thank you for your very nice note about the death of our cat. In it you told us of our veterinary hospital's contribution to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in our cat's memory. Your news came at a time when it meant very much to us. It lifted our pet's death out of the realm of pure sadness and into a realm of help and hope for other companions--as you so well called them--who we love.
We recently lost our Siamese cat to kidney failure. Her passing has left a tremendous void in our family. We were quite pleased to be informed of the contribution made in her memory by our veterinary clinic. What a wonderful idea! Please also accept our check in memory of our cat.
We wanted you to know that we received your personal announcement advising us of the donation sent to you from our veterinary hospital in memory of our beloved dog. Words cannot tell you how our hearts were touched by this expression of sympathy.
All gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. At the same time, these memorial gifts provide needed support for companion animal research and service at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
The simple act of making a memorial gift to the Companion Animal Memorial Fund in the name of a recently deceased animal can mean so much to a grieving owner. It is a fitting tribute during a time when animal owners need to feel someone understands their loss.
For Further Information About the Companion Animal Memorial Fund, Please Conact:
Companion Animal Memorial Fund
UI College of Veterinary Medicine
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, IL 61802