Rudy to the Rescue: Veterinary care fund established

Rudy to the Rescue: Veterinary care fund established

Beth Walton, bwalton@citizen-times.com3 p.m. EST November 28, 2015

Regional animal hospital sets up fund to help owners with financial needs

(Photo: Courtesy of Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital.)

ASHEVILLE - Tanya Alstott's floppy-eared German Shepard died over two years ago, but come 2016 Rudy's legacy will live on helping other pets in need.

The dog is the namesake for a new fund set up at the Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital(REACH) in Asheville. The Rudy to the Rescue Veterinary Care Fund will help animals in need of emergency medical care whose owners can't afford the service.

In the works for three months, veterinarians at REACH hope to raise $10,000 before the fund starts to pay out.

REACH is open 24-hours a day and services all of Western North Carolina. The hospital helps pets in need of unplanned, unexpected emergency care. Services can cost thousands of dollars.

"More times than we'd like to see, people come in and they are not financially ready for what is happening," said Beth Jones, a veterinarian at the clinic. "This is a very stressful situation for the owner, the pet and even for us."

Advances in animal medical care and technology have allowed for more life-saving surgeries, she said. At the same time, people have become more bonded to their pets. "Pets are part of our family now, and people are willing to get help for them."

Often times, families with financial means who have used REACH's services want to do something to give back, Jones said. Setting up the fund was a "perfect marriage." Donors can contribute and get a tax benefit; the hospital can save more lives — lives like Rudy's, she said.

Rudy had surgery at REACH in 2008 for a bloated stomach. The procedure cost nearly $3,000, but it added five years to the German Shepard's life.

"Although those costs were significant, it never crossed our minds not to go forward with trying to save Rudy," said Alstott.

The family purchased the German Shepard from a kennel near Raleigh in December 2001. He was the best Christmas present they ever had, Alstott said.

By age 3, Rudy weighed 102 pounds and looked a little oafish, she added. He was goofy and a bit overwhelming because of his size, but within minutes of meeting him, people could feel his love, she said.

Rudy was so good with people that by 2008 he became a certified therapy dog, bringing smiles to students at UNC Asheville during finals week, and to the patients at Mission Health and area nursing homes.

"He loved to show off his tennis ball catching abilities with the seniors at the Jewish Community Center's activity hour," said Alstott. "He never passed up the opportunity to give someone a kiss and relished the hugs he got in return."

"We are just incredibly honored and appreciative that REACH has decided to not only start the care fund, but to honor Rudy's legacy by naming it after him."

LEARN MORE

To get involved with the Rudy to the Rescue Veterinary Care Fund, visit www.reachvet.com or call  828-665-4399. Donations can be made online at www.vetcarefoundation.org, or mailed to the Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital (REACH), 677 Brevard Rd., Asheville, NC 28806.