Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grants: Oscar

Thanks to the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grant program, now there is help for families in need. Through this program, low-income families receive emergency financial help to care for their pet family members in times of crisis. The program was named in honor of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Colton Rusk, who gave his life to save fellow soldiers in December 2010. Rusk’s bomb-sniffing canine companion, Eli, stayed with the fallen soldier until Marines arrived at the scene. Eli and Lance Corporal Rusk’s relationship exemplifies the strength of the human-animal bond, and TVMF could think of no better way to honor this bond than by establishing a veterinary assistance grant program in their honor.

This program provides supplemental assistance to a veterinarian’s charitable care for animals of low-income families or for families that have an undue financial burden due to extenuating circumstances.

Recently, a Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grant was awarded to a terrier mix named Oscar, a treasured companion to his owner, Judith, who rescued Oscar from a kennel in Uvalde, Texas, and describes Oscar as “a feisty little guy that loves to be the center of attention.”

In late April, Judith began to notice Oscar slowing down and not eating. When she took him to see Dr. Liza Banks of Central Texas Animal Hospital, Oscar was running a fever and bordering on sepsis. “Dr. Banks took one look at his mouth and diagnosed his dental decay as the source of the problem,” Judith said. “I went into an instant panic. Knowing the cost of dental surgery, my mind raced about the possibility of having this done or having him euthanized.” Oscar’s serious dental disease was causing extreme discomfort and anorexia. He was in desperate need of dental surgery, which would most likely include nearly a full mouth extraction.

Due to Judith’s own medical expenses and being on a fixed income, Judith was faced with coming to terms with euthanizing Oscar because she could not afford to fit his surgery within her tight monthly budget.

“I thought of the adoption agreement I had signed, stating I would do whatever I could to keep Oscar healthy and happy,” Judith said. “I knew I had to [find a way to] get his teeth taken care of.”

While working with the office manager, Michelle, to explore her options, Judith learned about TVMF’s Rusk Veterinary Assistance Grants.

“It was like I had all my concerns lifted away,” Judith said. “I felt immense relief knowing Oscar [could potentially] get the treatment he needed.”

“Judith loves Oscar and is doing the best she can to help him,” wrote Dr. Banks in the grant application. “Oscar is a sweet dog who at age eight has plenty of good years to live if we can solve his dental problems.”

The TVMF Board of Trustees Grants Committee approved Oscar’s application.

“Thanks to the generosity of your foundation,” Judith said, “Oscar is once again back to his old self. The surgery was on May 8 [and a month later] he is [already] back to solid food. He even has a new bark, more high-pitched and rapid. It’s like he is saying ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’ over and over. And I say thank you as well, for your contribution to his treatment. Your donors have saved my little Oskie.”

“There are often times when finances prevent pet owners from being able to obtain the best care for their pets, and it can really put an emotional strain on us,” said Michelle Parker, the office manager for Central Texas Animal Hospital. “We are all lovers of pets and people and want to deliver the best care. It was uplifting and rewarding to my team to be able to help Ms. Kuhr and Oscar to get the Rusk Grant. On behalf of the Central Texas Animal Hospital team, we say, ‘Thanks a million!’”

TVMF was happy to help, and we are so pleased that Oscar is pain-free and that he and Judith can look forward to many more years together.