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Providing help for sick and injured animals — The Francis Fund

By Paul Viau | Apr 23, 2014
Photo by: File photo NO PET LEFT BEHIND — The Francis Fund lends a helping hand to sick, injured and abandoned animals.

As most of you know, my wife and I are ‘huge’ animal lovers. That doesn’t mean that we care mostly for larger animals. We care about all God’s creatures — big and small. And yes, I am even learning to embrace those pesky squirrels that continually wreak havoc with our bird feeders.

You can read more about my newfound “squirrel love” next week. Today I want to focus on sick and injured animals and a much-needed resource in Haywood County that helps see that animals receive the care they need — The Francis Fund.

The Francis Fund was conceived in 2001 when two Haywood County friends and animal lovers got together at a certain Frog Level coffee house. The conversation quickly turned to the plight of sick and injured animals and the sad fact that so many critters weren’t getting needed care, because not all pet owners could afford to pay the high cost of an emergency veterinary visit. The pair also worried about all the lost and abandoned animals, including those injured on roadsides and starving in the wilderness.

Those animals picked up by Animal Control and/or taken to Haywood County Animal Shelter had a chance of surviving, especially if they found their way to either of Haywood County’s animal welfare organizations —  Haywood Spay/Neuter and Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation. But what about all the other animals that are not so lucky?

That’s when Bob Venner (now deceased), who was on the board of HS/N and JoAnna Swanson, life-long animal lover, conceived of a non-profit organization to help pay for veterinary treatment. They decided on a fitting name for the organization — The Francis Fund — because both admired St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.

Finally, so that donors to The Francis Fund could claim a tax deduction, the two partnered with HAWA (now HS/N) to be included under the umbrella of its 501c3.

The Francis Fund has been helping care for sick and injured animals for a dozen years now, working behind the scenes through an alliance with all Haywood County veterinary hospitals. The fund is administered by JoAnna Swanson and co-administrator, Leslie Denman, owner of Rahama Kennels in Waynesville.

Denman is both a dedicated animal lover and knowledgeable licensed veterinary technician.

The Francis Fund helps pay for emergency procedures deemed necessary by a veterinarian, including diagnosis, surgery and medicines, and works to provide financial aid to owners whose pets are victims of poisoning, broken bones, wounds or car accidents.

All financial aid from the Francis Fund is given directly to the animal hospital involved in the care of the pet. No money is sent directly to pet owners. The pet owner remains responsible, while the Francis Fund helps out — paying up to $40 for the initial veterinarian visit.

The organization’s goal is to see injured animals restored to as fit a physical condition as possible.

The Francis Fund depends entirely on private donations. No help is received from public funds. All donations are tax deductible and every penny goes to the animals. So, when you see the Francis Fund donation jars throughout Haywood County, please contribute what you can. Those who wish to donate can send a check to The Francis Fund, P.O. Box 155, Hazelwood, NC 28738.

Your donation will help save sick and injured animals that are abandoned or homeless, as well as the pets of people who are in need of financial assistance.

And on behalf of all pet owners, I thank you.