LEAP Program Spotlight: Ms. Ham and Ranger

In 2012, the Lending Economic Assistance to 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 MOWCTX clients at no cost to them. After 10 successful years, LEAP has expanded to serve close to 900 pets annually in partnership with Meals on Wheels organizations serving Brazos, Callahan, Collin, Dallas, Harris, Hays, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lubbock, Montgomery, Tarrant, Taylor, Travis and Williamson counties.

For the animals enrolled in this program, the benefit is clear; many of the animals in the LEAP program have never been to the veterinarian and desperately need routine care such as vaccines and parasite control. Other companion animals served through the program may need more extensive care, such as dental surgeries or tumor removals. The services these pets receive through the LEAP program ensure they will live longer, healthier lives, which in turn means preserving the human-animal bond. Not only does LEAP positively influence the pet-owning population by providing care to some of our neediest neighbors but it also provides Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) veterinarians with opportunities to give back to their communities.

For pets like Ranger, the LEAP program can be the difference between receiving veterinary care or not. Ranger is a beloved companion to her owner, Ms. Ham, who receives services from Lubbock Meals on Wheels. Ranger is not only her best friend but also her unofficial “seeing-eye dog” as Ms. Ham is nearly blind and relies on him to help navigate steps and obstacles. Through the LEAP program, Ranger received not only his annual wellness exam, vaccines and flea and heartworm preventatives but also a dental surgery from Dr. Blaine Oden of Oden Veterinary Hospital, where he had multiple teeth extracted. Ms. Ham is ecstatic to have her best friend feeling so much better and shared, “Ranger is back to his old playful and happy self!”

Together, veterinarians, clinics and passionate individuals embody TVMF’s mission to support the veterinary profession and our communities in Texas by providing resources, education and programs for the responsible stewardship of animals.