Emulator

Respecting and Protecting a Vital Bond – Monterey Herald

He loves completely and utterly with all his heart and asks the same in return. Without it, it could just lay down and die. He doesn’t judge or hold grudges, doesn’t care what you weigh, what you wear, or why you have that weird haircut. He never hides his affection and is gifted with infinite patience, unless he wants to go out, go to the beach or eat.

Your dog, whether you’ve admitted it to your partner or not, is the great love of your life. Cats can have the same characteristics; although some were said to stay away, judge and, at times, hold grudges.

Our pets fill our hearts with love and our lives with joy and responsibility. That’s why, when they get sick or injured, we want to do everything we can to help them recover. But what happens when the cost to save a beloved pet is beyond our capabilities?

“After decades of veterinary practice on the Central Coast, I reflect on how lucky I am to work in an area full of people who love animals, and the remarkable displays of human-animal bonding I have seen over the years. years,” said Dr. Merrianne Burtch, a veterinary internal medicine specialist. “Yet one of the hardest parts of my job is watching people say goodbye to a pet that can be saved because of a financial obstacle.”

“One of the hardest parts of my job is watching people say goodbye to a pet that can be saved due to a financial obstacle,” said veterinary internal medicine specialist Dr. Merrianne Burtch. . (Courtesy picture)

That’s why, in 2013, Burtch established BirchBark Foundation to remove some or all of the financial barrier to protecting animal health and welfare.

“The vision that drives our organization,” she said, “is that financial hardship should never result in the loss of a pet.”

Burtch, who earned her undergraduate degree at Stanford and her degree in veterinary internal medicine at UC Davis, is inspired and motivated by countless stories of survival. Yet she still remembers Miles, the life partner of a homeless man who suffered a broken pelvis, but his person couldn’t afford to save his life. Burtch cared for the young Australian Shepherd during his internship at Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital, until he made a full recovery. For the next 14 years, Miles came to visit her.

“It’s not that hard to do just one more thing to make a difference in the community, in someone’s life,” she said. “When I worked at Pacific Veterinary Specialists in Monterey, client Carol Quimby-Bonan came in with her dog, Poppy, who had a difficult blood platelet problem. She asked what we do when people can’t afford to pay for their pet’s care. When I shared my vision, she quickly wrote me a check for $5,000 and said, “Make it happen.”

Building BirchBark

Burtch reportedly named his nonprofit “The Poppy Fund” after Quimby-Bonan’s dog, but the name was already in use. It was her husband who suggested she play on his name, the voice of a dog, and the flexible, impermeable nature of the North American paper birch.

The BirchBark Foundation, which serves Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties, operates under three business lines. As part of the PetAid gift program, in conjunction with veterinary partners who are reducing their services by 25%, BirchBark is offering to pay up to 50% of the reduced cost of care, leaving pet families with just 25% of their veterinary bills.

"We center all our work around the human-animal bond and develop our programs in relation to this," says Michelle Frampton, Managing Director of BirchBark. "This is a community that understands how important our animals are to us, that they are part of the family, but not everyone has the resources to be able to protect them." (Courtesy picture)
“We center all of our work around the human-animal bond and develop our programs around that,” says Michelle Frampton, CEO of BirchBark. “It’s a community that understands how important our animals are to us, that they’re part of the family, but not everyone has the resources to be able to protect them.” (Courtesy picture)

In conjunction with partner veterinarians, PetAid gifts are available to residents of the Tri-County area, whose household income is up to 300% of the federal poverty level, on behalf of cases where the prognosis, with intervention vet, says Burtch, is good. The organization is unable to fund routine care, cancer treatment, long-term care, or certain orthopedic surgeries.

The Education Branch was born out of the understanding that advocating for companion animals sometimes means educating pet owners about the consequences of health decisions and choices. To that end, BirchBark offers webinars and video lectures on topics that support a pet’s well-being, such as off-leash training and behavior, how to examine a pet at home, and things the do’s and don’ts of training a dog. .

“The welfare of an animal is not limited to medical care. The goal of our education branch,” Burtch said, “is to help people learn to care for, protect, and be good advocates for their pets.

The third branch provides bereavement counseling and support around the loss of a pet. Sometimes, despite medical intervention, it’s time for a pet to move on.

“The loss of a pet for anyone, but especially for people who live alone or for whom pets are their main social outlet, can be devastating,” said Executive Director Michelle Frampton. “It’s so important that we provide a unique response to this, allowing people to access support and an outlet for their grief.”

BirchBark offers bi-monthly support groups via Zoom video conferencing and people can request a one-on-one meeting with a counselor at no cost, on a short-term basis. Additionally, the organization provides a lost pet support group, which meets for an hour, twice a month.

BirchBark has launched a new program, Rocky’s Fund, to support homeless pets and their loved ones. Named in memory of a boxer named Rocky, a military dog, whose person had lost his home, the program provides essential services to help people maintain the human-animal bond that promotes stability in their lives.

“We have partnered with the Salinas-based Share Center, an animal-friendly transitional shelter, and Step Up Salinas, which provides more permanent housing,” Frampton said. “It’s about nurturing and protecting that human-animal connection by understanding and meeting the need for those resources.”

A call to community service

Growing up in San Jose, Burtch knew from the age of 4 that she wanted to be a veterinarian. Yet her desire to foster equal access to resources and opportunities began long before that, when she recognized the cultural and economic diversity of her community. As high school president, she sought to raise funds to level the playing field, so everyone in the French club could join the trip to France and all of her classmates could go to prom.

Next, she focused her educational choices on promoting companion animal welfare and protecting the bond between pets and their people.

Frampton, who has spent his entire career building and growing nonprofits focused on social issues, such as food insecurity and homelessness, told his family that his next venture would further his true passion for animal welfare.

Just over two years ago, she uprooted her life in Chicago and moved to the Central Coast with her family and, now, three rescue dogs, which she considers the key to life. Then she joined the BirchBark Foundation.

“BirchBark is unique in its nature and mission,” she said, “which is very essential for any community. We center all of our work around the human-animal bond and develop our programs around it. This is a community that understands how important our animals are to us, that they are part of the family, but not everyone has the resources to be able to protect them. We strive to provide the safety net and resources needed to save one of the most important relationships in our lives.

BirchBark works closely with a variety of regional non-profit organizations including SPCA Monterey County, Share Center, Step Up Salinas, Partner Vets and Peace of Mind Dog Rescue – for which BirchBark pays 75% of all costs to their low clinical cost.

“Peace of Mind Dog Rescue is proud to partner with BirchBark Foundation,” said co-founder and executive director Carie Broecker. “Working together enables both organizations to help more animal custodians in need to reduce suffering and save lives.”

For more information, visit www.birchbarkfoundation.org.


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