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December 17, 2019 – As a former emergency veterinarian, Dr. Shenandoah Diehl saw her share of cases of sick pets that she just couldn’t save. Not a single loss was easy for either her or the owners who had to say goodbye.

To ease their grief and remember the loved ones lost, she started sending Morris Animal Foundation tribute cards. These represent donations to Foundation-funded research that seek solutions for the many health threats animals face.

“Those cards mean not only a lot to us veterinarians, but also to the owners of these pets,” said Dr. Diehl. “Memorializing them and then having a way for us to donate and improve animal health over the long run, that’s a double bonus for us.”

Dr. Diehl has since moved on from critical care to start her own ultrasound business, consulting for small animal hospitals. While she rarely comes in direct contact with owners anymore, she still sends cards – just now to those hospitals as year-end gifts. For the last three years, she has chosen between 25 and 28 clinics and made donations in their name.

She says the concept was new to some clinic staff members when she started, but they were all appreciative, especially when she explained that a lot of the information they use in their practices comes from research the Foundation made possible. They also were surprised to learn that the Foundation funds health research not just for cats and dogs, but for horses, llamas, alpacas and wildlife, too.

Still, those beloved companion animals are near and dear to Dr. Diehl and she knows what diseases she hopes donations like hers can help address - feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in cats and hemangiosarcoma in dogs.

“To me, those are the two most devastating diseases. If something changed for those two, that would dramatically change veterinary practices,” she said.

Morris Animal Foundation has supported many studies to try and combat both issues. In fact, next year, Foundation-funded researchers at Colorado State University will attempt to develop an oral vaccine for feline enteric coronavirus, a common virus that can mutate and cause FIP.

The Foundation’s tribute and memorial cards aren’t just available to veterinarians. Anyone can send tribute cards to honor a friend or family member’s pet, celebrate a birthday or holiday, or simply just to say you are thinking of them. Visit our online Tribute Program where you’ll find a beautiful selection of tribute and seasonal cards. Select your card, create a personalized message or choose from several preformatted options, select your donation amount (minimum of $10), then enter your recipient’s mailing information.

“I would say it feels better to give this gift than any other gift and it feels better to receive it than it feels to receive any other gift,” Dr. Diehl said.