The University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) has launched a $9-million fundraising campaign through OVC Pet Trust.

“The University and OVC have a long-standing commitment to improve animal health and welfare,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino.

“This ambitious campaign will help us develop medical advancements and train tomorrow’s animal care professionals to help ensure healthier and longer lives for pets.”

The campaign was announced during the “Walk in the Park Gala” held Thursday night at Daniels Spectrum in Toronto. Attended by pet lovers, researchers, clinicians and donors, the annual gala began in 2011 to help raise funds for OVC’s Pet Trust.

OVC Pet Trust was created in 1986 as Canada’s first charitable fund devoted to the health and well-being of companion animals. Funds raised support learning, health care and research at OVC.

A previous campaign raised more than $13 million for OVC’s Mona Campbell Centre for Animal Cancer.

Under the new campaign, OVC Pet Trust intends to raise $9 million for surgery and anesthesia facilities at OVC to benefit companion animals.

“These facilities will have far-reaching impacts on both pets and pet owners,” said OVC dean Jeff Wichtel.

“They will help ensure our continued ability to improve the health and well-being of pets, whether we are providing advanced diagnosis or life-saving procedures, raising the standard of care, or making meaningful contributions to clinical research and innovation.

OVC ranks No. 1 in Canada and fourth worldwide among veterinary schools, and is known for solving complex health issues in companion animals, Wichtel added.

Every year, OVC treats more than 2,000 dogs, cats and other pets referred by veterinarians for advanced diagnostic and surgical procedures.

About 90 per cent of patients have serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and liver failure; about half require surgery and most of those need anesthesia.

The proposed facilities will contain surgical and diagnostic video and imaging devices, including operating microscopes, orthopedic and neurological equipment, and a sophisticated anesthesia and pain management unit.

A dedicated suite for minimally invasive procedures will be a first for a veterinary teaching hospital in Canada.

“Offering the best pet care means offering the best veterinary medical education,” Wichtel said.

“We’ll equip the next generation of veterinary leaders with the most advanced knowledge, skills and techniques.”