Ensuring longer, healthier lives for pets is the driving force behind OVC Pet Trust’s Friends Together for Longer capital campaign. The ambitious fundraising effort, which began just under three years ago, has reached its $9-million goal. The funds raised will go toward the creation of new advanced surgical and anesthesia facilities at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

Each year, there are 20,000 companion animal patient visits to OVC.  The majority are referred for advanced diagnostics and surgery by primary-care veterinarians. About 90 per cent of those pets have acute illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and liver failure. Almost half are in need of complex surgical procedures, and 75 per cent require anesthesia. OVC is also committed to advanced preventive procedures to ensure pets stay healthy.

“Donations are the lifeline of our teaching hospital. To the hundreds of pet owners, animal lovers, clients and alumni who made a gift to this campaign over the last three years, thank you: thank you for believing in the OVC Pet Trust mission of helping the pets we love live longer, healthier lives. And thank you for helping us to train tomorrow’s veterinarians and continue to drive new breakthroughs in animal health discoveries,” said Jeffrey Wichtel, dean of OVC.

For more than 30 years, OVC Pet Trust has supported innovative discoveries and learning to ensure the highest level of veterinary training and health care for pets, he said.

He said the extensive upgrade to the OVC Companion Animal Hospital will allow the college to remain at the cutting edge of veterinary medical care, training and discovery. The new space is expected to open in 2019.

Critical new elements will be advanced surgical suites and a dedicated space for minimally invasive procedures. Eight operating theatres will occupy the new James Slaight Advanced Surgical Complex, named for the late poodle of donors Emmanuelle Gattuso and Allan Slaight through a gift from La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso.

OVC also received donations from longtime supporters Kim and Stu Lang (the Angel Gabriel Foundation), Lindy Barrow, Mona Campbell and the estate of John and Jean Waller. These leadership gifts will establish state-of-the-art anesthesia, pain management and recovery units; a minimally invasive procedures suite; and an endoscopy unit — all equipped with surgical and diagnostic video and imaging equipment.

The college’s leading-edge care honours the unique bond between companion animals and humans, and advancing the veterinary field ensures a longer and stronger bond, said Wichtel. Upon launching the campaign in fall 2015, U of G president Franco Vaccarino said the funds raised will spur medical advancements, train tomorrow’s animal care professionals and ensure healthier and longer lives for pets.

Wichtel said these improvements will keep OVC at the forefront of veterinary medicine by offering the best care to patients, allowing them to experience less pain, and helping them recover more quickly and return home faster.

OVC is ranked as the best veterinary science school in Canada and seventh in the world.