Veterinary Memorial Fund transforms grief into promise

Blacksburg, Va. -- When President George W. Bush lost his beloved dog Spot earlier this year, he received a letter of consolation from Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

The letter informed the President that a donation had been made to the college's "Veterinary Memorial Fund" by an employee in the White House in honor of his beloved spaniel. It explained that the donation would fund clinical research programs that could lead to discoveries that would benefit future generations of companion animals.

The president of the United States was one of thousands of bereaved animal owners whose loss of a beloved companion has been memorialized through the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's "Veterinary Memorial Fund."

Founded in 1984 by the college and the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the fund is one of the oldest such funds in the nation. Since its inception, the fund has raised almost $900,000 and has funded more than 100 individual clinical research programs exploring areas deemed timely by a panel of statewide practitioners and college faculty members.

"Research is a major priority for our college of veterinary medicine," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig, who became the third dean in the college's history in June 2004. "Veterinary research contributes significantly to discoveries that directly improve animal health. It also contributes to human health by controlling or eliminating disease which can spread from animals to humans."

One of the greatest benefits of the Veterinary Memorial Fund program is that the way it links community veterinarians around the state with college researchers in a way that directly serves animals and their owners, Schurig noted.

When a companion animal passes away, financial donations are made to the fund. The dean of the VMRCVM then sends a letter of condolence announcing the memorial to

Contact: Jeffrey Douglas
Virginia Tech

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