Equine charity’s gift to WCVM doubles in value

equine overground endoscope

Dr. David Wilson (left) helps Dr. Fernando Marqués (right) to insert the overground endoscope in a horse’s respiratory tract. Photo: Debra Marshall.

A $20,000 donation from the Equine Foundation of Canada (EFC) to support horse health at the Western College of Veterinary Medicineon the University of Saskatchewan campus has helped to raise another $20,000 through a matching gift program.

“The Equine Foundation of Canada’s dedicated efforts to support horse health at the WCVM and at other Canadian veterinary colleges are exceptional,” said WCVM Dean Dr. Douglas Freeman. “Year after year, members of the EFC have put the long-term health and welfare of horses first by investing in veterinary education, research and clinical services across the country. We admire their commitment and thank them for supporting our veterinary college.”

Established in 1983, the EFC is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting the health and welfare of all breeds of horses across Canada. Its latest donation qualifies for the veterinary college’s matching gift program — an initiative that was created by the Heather Ryan and L. David Dubé Foundation in 2006. The Saskatoon foundation has pledged to match any new or increased donations to the WCVM’s equine research programs between 2006 and 2011.

With the EFC donation and the matched dollars, the WCVM has purchased two pieces of equipment that will be used for horse health research as well as for the clinical care of patients in the college’s veterinary teaching hospital:

  • a Holter monitor that will allow veterinarians to continuously monitor a horse’s heart activity for 24 hours or longer. The equipment will help veterinarians diagnose and investigate cardiac arrhythmias and other cardiac-related symptoms that come and go without any predictability.
  • an overground video endoscope that gives veterinarians the ability to examine a horse’s upper airway during exercise. Endoscopic evaluation of horses exercised on a high-speed treadmill or on a track is the gold standard for identifying dynamic abnormalities such as dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP), laryngeal hemiplegia or other upper airway dysfunctions.

This is the second year that the EFC has qualified for the matching gift program. The organization contributed $10,000 in 2009 to support the WCVM’s studies of equine sarcoids — the most commonly diagnosed skin tumours in horses around the world.

While the EFC generally rotates its annual donation among Canada’s five veterinary colleges, its members decided to make an exception. “We had donated to the WCVM in 2009, but the chance to double the support for horse health programs was just too good of an opportunity to pass up,” said EFC President Eldon Bienert of Leduc, Alta.

Combined, the two EFC gifts and the matching dollars will result in a $60,000 addition to the WCVM’s equine health program. After more than four years, the matching gift program has helped to increase funding for WCVM’s horse health activities by more than $450,000.

“I think the matching gift program is a wonderful motivator for anyone who owns and works with horses. We rely on our animals for so much, and this program inspires horse owners and organizations like ours to dig deeper for the sake of horse health care,” said Bienert.

Supporters of the EFC include members of all types of equine breed organizations and sport groups across Canada. Through fundraising trail rides, raffles and individual gifts, EFC members have raised more than $200,000 in support for scholarships, research grants and the purchase of medical equipment over the past 28 years.

Located at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Sask., the WCVM is the centre for veterinary education, clinical expertise and research for Western Canada. The veterinary college’s Equine Health Research Fund annually invests nearly $200,000 in equine health research grants, equine fellowships and a summer research program for undergraduate veterinary students at the WCVM.

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