Improving the lives of animals through more accessible health care is the goal of a new $11-million donation to the University of Guelph, the largest single gift received by the University’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

Through this transformational gift, OVC will revolutionize animal health care and education to shape the future of veterinary care, said U of G president Franco Vaccarino.

Working with community partners, OVC will ensure its student veterinarians graduate with the skills and knowledge to support and lead programs that expand animal health care for underserved populations, including identifying and removing barriers to access, Vaccarino said.

“This generous gift will bring together professionals serving vulnerable animal and human populations to allow us to learn from each other, address social inequities and share knowledge using an interdisciplinary One Health approach,” he said.

“We will transform the student experience and influence societal change, while increasing our research capacity, enhancing our global reputation and training the next generation of veterinary leaders.”

Longtime U of G and OVC benefactors Kim and Stu Lang will provide the funding through their Angel Gabriel Foundation. The gift will create the Kim and Stu Lang Community Healthcare Partnership Program (CHPP), the first academic program of its kind in Canada. It will expand initiatives such as OVC’s community outreach and spay-neuter programs that provide veterinary services for shelters and underserviced and remote communities.

“It has been a profound privilege for us to be involved in the founding of this wonderful new program at OVC. Thank you to the U of G and OVC for continually working with us as we all endeavour to improve life,” said Kim Lang.

“This gift represents our love for animals and our desire that this program becomes a force for good in the world. We hope it will have a positive and lasting impact on animals and those who love them, and that it will help inspire generations of future veterinarians.”

The CHPP will enhance and develop partnerships with humane societies, veterinary outreach organizations and social service agencies already doing important work in community health care. The CHPP will significantly expand opportunities for student experiential learning, including a clinical rotation where OVC will partner with Northern Indigenous communities.

Through investments in state-of-the-art learning technology, this gift will also help ensure students receive best-in-class clinical skills training to support their work in the community.

The CHPP will include graduate training and specialization in community and/or shelter medicine to educate future specialists and help establish evidence-based best practices. Previously, such training was available only outside of Canada.

Capital improvements on campus will enhance clinical facilities to accommodate the expanded medical and surgical offerings. Operational funding will support equipment, supplies and personnel to deliver programs at the University, in surrounding communities and remotely.

The gift will also support a full-time veterinary director, an academic professorship, staff, student scholarships and intern/resident training programs in community medicine.

Remy’s Fund, named for one of the Langs’ rescue dogs that received life-saving cancer treatments at OVC, will be created to subsidize medical care for animals in need.

“This gift will allow us to catalyze one of the most significant developments in clinical training we have seen in recent decades,” said OVC dean Jeff Wichtel.

“It will further open our college to the community, allowing our trainees to assist animals whose needs are currently unmet, and promote a fundamental shift in animal health care and education. Our graduates will be more likely to leave with the desire to serve their community and others, including those with limited access to veterinary care.”

A lifelong champion of animal welfare, Kim Lang has served on the OVC Pet Trust advisory board since 2009 and currently co-chairs its marketing committee. Pet Trust improves and advances companion animal health and well-being by supporting health care, education and innovative discoveries at OVC.