LEAP Program Expansion to Amarillo!

In 2012, the Lending Economic Assistance for Pets (LEAP) program began as a partnership between the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) and Meals on Wheels Central Texas (MOWCTX) in Austin. We started with a goal to provide basic wellness veterinary care to 40 pets belonging to homebound Meals on Wheels clients at no cost to them. After 10 successful years, LEAP has expanded to serve close to 900 pets annually in 10 metropolitan areas across the state.

The newest LEAP program expansion is in partnership with Meals on Wheels of Amarillo’s AniMeals program and the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine (TTU-SVM) to expand the AniMeals program and provide annual wellness care to pet-owning Meals on Wheels clients in Amarillo.

The School of Veterinary Medicine will visit Meals on Wheels clients and provide veterinary service needs such as physical examinations, diagnostics to test for diseases such as feline leukemia virus or heartworm infections and provide preventatives such as vaccinations and flea, tick and heartworm medications. TVMF’s Lending Economic Assistance for Pets (LEAP) program ensures the veterinary service provided by the School of Veterinary Medicine is at no cost to the client.

Allowing the School of Veterinary Medicine to provide this service gives students a real-world, hands-on opportunity to put their veterinary skills and knowledge into action while interacting with clients and their pets. It also is an opportunity for School of Veterinary Medicine students, staff and faculty to get involved and give back to the community.

“This has been a multi-year effort by a lot of folks from all associated parties to get to the point of delivery of veterinary care,” said John Dascanio, TTU-SVM senior associate dean for academic and student affairs and a member of the TVMF Board of Trustees. “We are so proud and humbled to partner with such great groups to serve the Amarillo community. In many instances, these animals are integral family members. Ensuring their pet’s health also indirectly helps to ensure the health and well-being of their owner.”

Many of the seniors served through Meals on Wheels programs live alone, and, for many, their pets are their primary daily companions. By keeping these pets healthy, TVMF and our partners are improving the quality of life for seniors and animals alike. We are keeping families intact and helping to preserve the human-animal bond. Every day, this program brings hope to others and makes a tangible difference in lives of homebound seniors across Texas.

TVMF is deeply grateful for every partnership that facilitates a high level of care for pets in need. We are especially grateful for continued financial commitments from PetSmart Charities, IDEXX Foundation, Banfield Foundation, Burdine Johnson Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, Donald D. Hammill Foundation, Mary E. Bivins Foundation, Austin Community Foundation, Carl and Marie Jo Anderson Foundation and other grant funders. This support helps sustain this important program in current markets while also providing crucial funds for bringing LEAP to new areas.

Thank you to Weston Brooks, TTU-SVM Director of Communications and Marketing, for contributing to this article.