Animal Health Center patients benefit from new hardship fund

August 3, 2013 6:51:08 PM

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Clients in need of support to supplement critical care treatments for their animals are now benefiting from a new fund established by Robert and Kathy Olsen. 

 

The Robert and Kathy Olsen Hardship Veterinary Medicine Fund will help offset major expenses for patients in need of critical or lifesaving procedures and whose owners cannot otherwise afford such care. 

 

This fund was established in honor of Mississippi State University veterinarian Dr. Caroline Betbeze. An animal ophthalmologist, Betbeze showed special care to the Olsen's beloved schnauzer, Lillie, during her treatment at Mississippi's only veterinary college. 

 

"Lillie suffered from an ulcer on her cornea, so we sought medical treatment for her at MSU," stated Kathy, a 1973 and 1974 graduate of MSU. "We immediately recognized that Dr. Betbeze was an extraordinary veterinarian. She knew exactly what to do, and we were impressed with her abilities and sincerity." 

 

Dr. Betbeze, who treated Lillie for the corneal ulcer, has been practicing animal ophthalmology for more than 10 years. She recently returned to Starkville to practice at the college's Animal Health Center and their affiliate center, the Veterinary Specialty Services located on Stark Road. 

 

An MSU alumna, Dr. Betbeze, holds an undergraduate degree in food science and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. She also earned a master's degree from Purdue University, where she completed her ophthalmology residency. In addition to her practice, she instructs students in diagnosis and treatment, and provides them with hands-on experience dealing with patients suffering from cataracts or other ocular traumas. 

 

"Lillie was so at ease with Dr. Betbeze," continued Kathy. "She was so gracious and warm, and overwhelmed us with her kindness." 

 

 

 

Life-saving fund 

 

This fund the Olsen's created is specified for companion animals whose lives can be bettered or saved through treatment at MSU's Animal Health Center. Special consideration will be given to low-income families or pets that would be euthanized without proper medical care. 

 

"My husband and I talked about making a gift for a long time. We have three schnauzers and know how expensive veterinarian bills get as they grow older," Kathy said. "One day I was at my local vet, and a lady came in with her dog who had the same condition as Lillie. She couldn't afford the treatment, and that is when we decided to establish a fund for families who cannot pay for medical care for their pets." 

 

Clients benefitting from this support can receive assistance up to $2,500, but are also required to pay 10 percent of their overall veterinary bill. 

 

"We wanted to help pet owners, but also wanted them to be able to have ownership of their companion's treatment," said Kathy. "Bob and I have always supported animals and animal rights, and this was the logical next step for us." 

 

In addition to the hardship fund, the Olsens also donated $5,000 to Dr. Betbeze to purchase equipment for her department. 

 

"Each time we were at MSU, Dr. Betbeze had an assistant or veterinary students watching the treatment. It was such a collaborative effort, and she had a wonderful manner in teaching her students." 

 

The Olsens are one of the many couples supporting Mississippi State's research and teaching methods in the College of Veterinary Medicine. As part of its mission, the college strives to provide the best medical care to its patients while preparing the next generation of animal healthcare professionals. 

 

For more on giving opportunities such as this, contact Keith Gaskin, senior director of development for MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, at kgaskin@foundation.msstate.edu or 662-325-3815.