Initiative Made Possible through Support from Foundations
and Individual Donors
Mobile Unit to Hit the Road in Fall 2017

[March 9, 2017; Philadelphia, PA) – Penn Vet has successfully raised $1.5 million to launch its Mobile Unit Initiative, thanks to support from foundations including the Bernice Barbour Foundation, PetSmart Charities, and the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation, as well as generous individual donors. Run by Penn Vet’s Shelter Medicine Program, the initiative will provide advanced care for animals in shelters and underserved areas in the Philadelphia region, as well as opportunities for community engagement. The state-of-the-art, 40-foot mobile unit will be operational in fall 2017.  

Penn Vet's Shelter Medicine volunteering at Pets For Life event on World Veterinary Day“Penn Vet has a rich history of service to animals and communities, and the Mobile Unit Initiative ensures that we continue to increase access to exceptional care for pet owners and shelters in need,” said Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, PhD, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of our donors. Their support enables us to significantly expand the medical, teaching, and community service capabilities of our pioneering Shelter Medicine Program.”

The lead grant of $600,000 from the Bernice Barbour Foundation provides support for a full-time veterinarian—to be named the Bernice Barbour Assistant Professor of Clinical Shelter Medicine—and a full-time veterinary technician dedicated to the unit for a period of three years. In honor of this commitment, Penn Vet has named the outreach component of the initiative the Bernice Barbour Foundation Shelter and Community Outreach Program for the duration of the grant.

"Years ago, one of our earliest grants as a foundation went to the support of Penn Vet's mobile blood donor unit, the first of its kind in the United States,” said Katy Champ, Executive Director of the Bernice Barbour Foundation. “As an urban veterinary school, Penn Vet is in a unique position to bring their top-notch expertise directly to the source – large numbers of companion animals in need. That's the kind of research grant the Bernice Barbour Foundation is proud to support. This is an exciting opportunity for us to partner with Penn Vet in leveraging their teaching capabilities to influence generations of future veterinarians while maximizing the benefit to companion animals."

PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, also supported the Mobile Unit Initiative with a grant of $210,000. In addition, they provided $474,000 for three years of funding for spay and neuter surgical outreach in shelters and the community, a large portion of which will take place in the mobile unit.

“By funding Penn Vet’s Mobile Unit Initiative, we are supporting a unique opportunity for students to train on-the-job and in the field, exposing them to critical animal welfare issues they may encounter as professionals in the industry,” said David Haworth, DVM, PhD, president of PetSmart Charities. “Students will be able to make an impact early in their careers by helping pets in need through this initiative, and we hope this experience will inspire them to continue to be advocates for stray and shelter pets throughout their careers. We are proud to support Penn Vet and its students in these efforts.”

The John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation kicked off the Mobile Unit Initiative fundraising campaign with a $150,000 challenge grant.  

About the Mobile Unit

The mobile unit will provide advanced care for shelter animals and at-risk pets in communities without access to veterinary care. It also will offer trap-neuter-vaccinate-return programs. In addition, it will serve as a real-world classroom for Penn Vet students and the community. When needed, the mobile unit can be deployed to disaster areas to provide emergency relief and to respond to animal cruelty situations.

The 40-foot unit will house a state-of-the-art surgical suite and will be equipped with advanced equipment and tools not readily available in most shelters. With the addition of the mobile unit, Penn Vet’s Shelter Medicine Program and its shelter partners will be able to make more animals adoptable more quickly—a life-saving outcome for the many homeless animals in the Philadelphia region.

The mobile unit also will allow the Shelter Medicine Program to implement a comprehensive humane education and community outreach initiative with enriching experiences for local middle schools and high schools in Philadelphia.  

About Penn Vet’s Shelter Medicine Program

Established in 2006, Penn Vet’s Shelter Medicine Program programs consultative, educational, and veterinary support to regional shelters and residents of the Greater Philadelphia community. The program has a significant impact on how many homeless animals are given quality care and placed into permanent homes. In addition, the program provides interdisciplinary and authentic instruction to veterinary students through the lens of shelter medicine, by integrating best practices in educational techniques and research with community outreach, collaborative partnerships, and service learning.

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top five veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling nearly 35,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles nearly 4,900 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats more than 38,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

For more information, visit www.vet.upenn.edu.