By Sarah Ryan
Robyn Hall and her pet Chihuahua, Zena, were inseparable. For four years, they trained together for 4-H competitions, and Zena won championship awards in obedience, showmanship, and agility.
“Zena is proof that good things come in small packages,” Hall said.
But last year, when Hall was 14 years old, her beloved Chihuahua developed an autoimmune disorder that required a costly treatment regimen her family just couldn’t afford. Zena’s prognosis was not good.
Hall was heartbroken at the prospect of losing Zena. Then she learned about Ella’s Fund, a program at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital that provides life-saving care for animals when their young caretakers lack the resources to cover costs on their own. In return, the pet owners volunteer at local animal-welfare organizations, such as Fort Collins Cat Rescue, Larimer Humane Society, and the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program.
Ella’s Fund is named for an Australian shepherd that was treated at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a broken leg when she was 4 months old. Her family could not afford the care needed to save her life, and Ella’s Fund was born through the cooperative efforts of Ella’s caregivers and providers at the VTH. Established in early 2012, the fund has since helped dozens of families and their pets stay together, providing tens of thousands of dollars in lifesaving veterinary care that otherwise would have been inaccessible.
These families, often led by children or young adults responsible for the affected pet, have in turn donated thousands of volunteer hours to several animal care organizations throughout northern Colorado. Ella’s Fund targets recipients between 14 and 22 years old who place a high value on their relationships with their animals and who will benefit from first-hand experiences in animal welfare and stewardship.
Ella’s Fund helped cover veterinary costs for Sarah's horse, Stormy.
Sarah Groenwald is another young person whose life was positively impacted by Ella’s Fund. Groenwald began volunteering at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center after the VTH cared for her horse, Stormy. At the riding center, she volunteers as a horse leader, schooling team member, and occasional stall cleaner.
“It amazes me how much physical and mental benefit the riders receive. By the middle of the lesson, they are sitting up taller and riding with more confidence,” said Groenwald, who now aspires to be a veterinarian. “I’ve learned that horses form strong partnerships and help us grow as individuals.”
Ella's Fund has grown from a single act of benevolence and humanity into a giving program that provides life-saving care for dozens of animals each year.
Ella’s Fund is generously supported by the Banfield Charitable Trust, as well as through donations from community members. This community support is increasingly vital to the long-term sustainability of Ella’s Fund, and additional donations are needed for the program to continue to help companion animals and the kids who love them. To donate to Ella's Fund, visit the Ella's Fund giving page.
For more information about Ella’s Fund, or other giving opportunities to support the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, contact the Office of Development at (970) 491-0663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.