If You Have a Pet, Help is Available
By June Smith
A recent news item stated that Queen Elizabeth, who had been gifted with two puppies by Prince Andrew, was devastated by the death of Fergus, one of the pups.
They were meant to offer comfort and companionship while Prince Phillip was hospitalized. If her staff at Windsor Castle had access to an organization like Birchbark Foundation, she could have received added loving support for her loss.
BirchBark was founded in 2013 by local veterinarian Dr. Merrianne Burtch, president of the foundation. BirchBark is the result of her dream to help people keep that wonderful bond with their pets. One of the most challenging parts of her job is watching people say goodbye to a savable pet when they cannot afford the needed medical care.
Michelle Frampton, Birchbark executive director says, “We are the only organization in the tri-county region protecting and honoring the human-animal bond. We are both an animal welfare organization and a human service organization, which makes us unique in nature.”
For families facing the loss of a beloved pet needing medical care they can’t afford, the program pays up to 50% of the treatment. More than 30 local veterinary partners discount their services by another 25%, reducing the family’s cost to an affordable 25%. There are financial qualifications, but during the pandemic and wildfires, a “Here and Now” program began, taking hardship factors under consideration.
Loss and Grief
Pet Loss and Grief Support groups take place on Zoom every third Thursday of the month. Also, one-on-one support with a counselor is offered free of charge. The hope is to add more group sessions in the upcoming months, both on Zoom and in-person.
Educational programs offer tips on good caregiving for pets. Upcoming seminars on how to do wellness checks at home are planned.
Risks for both cats and dogs, especially during the holiday season, are outlined on the website. For dogs, chocolate is dangerous for the heart and blood pressure as well as their intestinal tract. Cats and kittens are attracted to ornaments and tinsel, and removal from the intestinal tract is a common emergency procedure.
Dave Parara, chief operating officer of MBS Business Systems, says, “MBS has been honored to partner with BirchBark Foundation for the past five years. We believe that their mission addresses something anyone who has ever loved a pet can understand.
To not be able to save them because of money is unthinkable. BirchBark has been a fantastic partner to our company and responsibly does the work for us and our community we care very much about.”
The Santa Cruz County Bank’s partnership has offered years of support and love.
“We are committed to supporting local businesses that focus on improving quality of life and economic vitality,” said Mary Anne Carson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “BirchBark discovered a need and responded, creating options to help pet owners facing heartbreaking decisions. We’re so happy to support them and so many other nonprofits and organizations that are creating solutions to real problems.”
Cindie Ambar of Heartsong Animal Healing in Aptos, who provides energy healing work for animals of all kinds, especially those who have suffered from trauma, says, “The BirchBark Foundation is an amazing resource, enabling humans and their animals to stay together during times of medical and financial stress. They have helped several of my clients and friends to provide the care that their animals needed. I also love their mission of supporting the animal-human bond. What could be more beautiful than that!”
As a fundraising organization, the need for support is critical, and a memorial gift is a way to show how much you care for a pet who has passed on.
Join the FALL IN LOVE WITH BIRCHBARK Virtual Celebration and Fundraiser at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 31. Registration is free at: birchbarkfoundation.org/fil2021 or call 831-471-7255.