Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grants

The Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grants offer financial assistance for qualifying families in need of medical or surgical intervention for their beloved pet. These one-time grants aim to preserve the human-animal bond by funding life-saving or life-changing veterinary care to a pet that might otherwise be relinquished, euthanized, or enduring prolonged suffering.

Our Inspiration

On December 6, 2010, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Colton Rusk was gunned down by sniper fire in Afghanistan. Eli, the bomb-sniffing dog assigned to Rusk, threw his body on his fallen handler and stayed with him, protecting his body until other Marines arrived at the scene. Following the loss of their son, Kathy and Darrell Rusk decided to adopt the dog who had shown so much devotion to their son. Because the U.S. military had spent thousands of dollars on Eli’s training, he was still considered operational, but the Secretary of the Navy approved his discharge, marking only the second time in history that a U.S. military dog has been adopted by the family of the fallen handler. Today, Eli lives with the Rusk family in the Southeast Texas city of Orange Grove. When the TVMF Board of Trustees learned about Eli, they stepped in to fund any veterinary care the black Labrador may need in the future.

Because Eli and Colton’s relationship exemplifies the strength of the human-animal bond, TVMF wanted to further recognize the service of both Eli and Colton by creating a veterinary grant program and naming it in their honor.

Frequently Asked Questions

You are a good candidate if:

You provide your pet with routine veterinary care.
You can provide proof of financial need along with the capability to make some financial contribution toward the cost of your pet’s care.
You have taken your pet to see your veterinarian and have a written diagnosis, prognosis and estimate from your veterinarian.
Your pet has received a good survival prognosis.

You are NOT a good candidate if:

Your pet has already been treated and you are looking for funds to repay a loan or credit card.
Your pet has a chronic health condition. (This includes diabetes, Cushing’s disease, heart trouble, etc.)
You have been convicted of animal abuse or neglect.
Your pet has not been seen by a veterinarian in the last 24 months.
You do not have a diagnosis, prognosis, and/or estimate for treatment from your veterinarian.
Your pet’s prognosis for survival is guarded or poor.
Your pet is over one year old and is not spayed nor neutered.
The animal is not in your legal custody.
You have not applied for CareCredit or Scratch Pay.

Additional requirements for eligibility:

The pet owner must reside in the state of Texas.
The pet owner demonstrates financial need and can make a financial contribution toward the cost of the animal’s care.
There must be evidence of a significant and compelling human-animal bond between the owner and their pet.
The pet owner is willing and able to provide recommended follow-up care.
Your veterinarian must apply for you. Only veterinarians who are members in good standing of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and who practice in the state of Texas will be eligible to apply for these grants for their clients.
Rescue groups, animal shelters and animal humane society type nonprofits are ineligible for a Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grant.

Do I meet the financial requirements?

Qualifying applicants receive assistance from one of the following programs: SNAP, Social Security Income (SSI), Texas Medicaid, Housing Assistance, WIC, Living Assistance, Unemployment Insurance or Healthcare.
Families that have some sort of financial burden due to extenuating circumstances may apply, but must provide a detailed account as to why the financial assistance is needed.

What kind of veterinary care/treatment qualifies for funding?

The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation subsidizes the cost of non-elective veterinary services including surgical procedures, quality of life dentistry, and medical care (hospitalization, diagnostics, and treatment) for cases that have a positive prognosis. The Foundation does not cover routine exams, vaccinations, food (including prescription diets), routine spays/neuters and general prophylactic dental care.

I don’t have a veterinarian. What should I do?

To be eligible for funding, you must have an existing relationship with a veterinarian who is a member of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

How do I apply?

The grant application must be filled out and submitted by the pet owner’s veterinarian.

TVMA Members Veterinarians: To apply for a Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grant on behalf of your client, please click here.

Pet owners: TVMF does not provide direct support to the public for veterinary care. We are a 501c3 tax-exempt charitable organization supporting veterinary care teams. If you have a question about the care of your pet, please contact your local veterinarian.