Morris Animal Foundation Scholarship Encourages Student’s Shelter Medicine Aspirations

From the moment Amanda Payne walked through the door of her local shelter as an eager high school student, she knew she had found her calling – a shelter medicine veterinarian. It was at the shelter that Amanda met Keena, “a quiet blue pit bull with the softest gaze, an ear with a strange little fold at the tip, and a wiggly, happy greeting for everyone she met.”

Amanda bonded to the sweet and outgoing dog, and was able to find her a forever home. Amanda knew that for every Keena, thousands of pets were still looking for a place to call home, and thousands more needed veterinary care that was often financially out of reach for owners, who in turn would often relinquish their pets. Amanda knew her life would be dedicated to helping this often neglected population of pets and their human families.

Throughout high school and undergraduate work, Amanda continued to volunteer at local shelters, and became an active participant in her veterinary college’s shelter medicine club, becoming the club’s president this past year. However, Amanda knew she needed more experience in shelter medicine and low-cost veterinary care, and decided that an externship in the field would provide the extra training and experience to pursue her dream. When the opportunity arose to work at a veterinary clinic serving a highly populated, lower-income area near San Francisco, she jumped at the chance.

But for Amanda, as with many other veterinary students, the costs associated with an externship placed an extra burden on her already stretched finances. She was required to pay her way during her externship, and knew the Bay Area was an expensive place to live, even temporarily. However, as Amanda was perusing a board featuring scholarship opportunities, her eye caught one that seemed tailor-made for her needs: the Morris Animal Foundation and Richard Lichter Charity for Dogs Veterinary Student Canine Externship Award.

“I would’ve had to take a loan out to complete my externship at Well Pet Vet without the scholarship,” said Amanda, who was one of three scholarship recipients. “The scholarship allowed me to work exactly where I wanted. It was a great experience for me personally and professionally.”

Amanda finished her externship in early September, and is now in her last year of veterinary school at Washington State University.

“I learned as much about the people as I did about the dogs,” said Amanda. “I learned that many of the people I worked with had adopted dogs they saw abandoned or neglected, even if their resources were limited. I learned you can accomplish amazing things when you withhold judgement.”

Amanda feels it is important for veterinary care to be accessible to pet owners from all walks of life, and this externship allowed her to learn how to serve people and pets who are most in need of accessible, compassionate care. If shelter veterinarians can work with owners proactively to keep pets with their families and out of shelters, that is the best solution for everyone, said Amanda. Pets aren’t separated from their human families, and human families can care for the pets that mean so much to them.

For Amanda, a lack of affordable veterinary care doesn’t have to be the future of the dogs she loves, or an overwhelming burden for the owners she’s come to care about. And you can help make a difference. A gift to Morris Animal Foundation’s end-of-year campaign helps passionate veterinary students like Amanda support this community, as well as fund research that results in less expensive, more effective ways to treat shelter animals and at-risk pets, ensuring they are healthy for their forever families.

What you do today makes a difference. Please give now.

Thanks to generous donors and supporters of Morris Animal Foundation, from now through December 31, 2017, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar up to $217,000, doubling the impact of your donation. Your money will be put to work to help fund the development of diagnostic tools, vaccines, new drug therapies and life-saving surgical techniques for animals. Thank you for all you do for the animals!

November 21, 2017