Letters of Gratitude

February 22, 2010

By Eric Davis, DVM

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Dennis Fortin, whose Patricia Haseman Foundation so generously supported HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS) over the years.

He had started a foundation to honor his late wife, Patricia Haseman, DVM, and decided that providing opportunities for young people to receive hands-on training in their chosen profession was to be its mission. In the last two years, the Haseman Foundation provided student scholarships, which allowed us to expand the number of students who could participate in HSVMA-RAVS field clinics, and also helped provide travel for staff to train and supervise students.

Though I talked to Mr. Fortin on the phone a number of times, I never had the chance to actually meet him, but his sincere interest in helping animals in need and educating veterinary students came through with every communication.

I am going to miss my conversations with him, a kind man who clearly wanted to help others and make the world better. We should all hope to do as much.

Many thanks

The students who are receiving scholarships to participate in clinics this year—thanks to the generosity of Mr. Fortin and the Haseman Foundation—had written letters to express their gratitude, which were to be delivered to him this month.

The sentiment in these letters expresses not only their gratitude for the award, but also reveals so much about the program and our partnership with the many generous donors and volunteers that support us.

Here we share the words of just a few of these dedicated students:

Volunteer in surgery
Lauren White participates in a surgery at an HSVMA-RAVS clinic.

Last summer I participated in a two week HSVMA-RAVS trip in North Dakota, and it proved to be the most amazing experience of my veterinary school years.

Truth be told, participating in HSVMA-RAVS field clinics rekindled my passion for the veterinary profession. For the first time since beginning veterinary school I was able to apply the knowledge I'd been learning and actually make a difference within a community. In addition, the professional and volunteer staff was wonderful to work with. I've yet to encounter an equivalent to the HSVMA-RAVS program in terms of commitment to mentoring and enthusiasm for teaching.

I had always imagined that running a free, volunteer staffed, mobile veterinary clinic would require offering a slightly lower quality of medicine. I now know that I was wrong. Having both seen and worked in an HSVMA-RAVS mobile veterinary clinic first hand, I would not hesitate to bring my own pet in to be spayed or neutered. I will even go so far as to say the surgical training and oversight I received while participating in HSVMA-RAVS far exceeded that of my traditional veterinary school education. I am very excited to return to the program and cannot thank you enough for helping to make it financially possible.

--Lauren White


Andrew Ayre
Andrew Ayre received a scholarship from the Patricia Haseman Foundation.

As I reflect on my past trips with HSVMA-RAVS, I have witnessed the variety of ways in which people find to give to each other. 

"It's kind of like everybody helps everybody," said a head technician on my first day of the trip.

The veterinarians, technicians, students and volunteers all have pockets of expertise. Even after a 16 hour day, veterinarians and technicians would spend their evening "free time" preparing students for the following day's surgery and anesthesia.

During the day, we had the opportunity to interact with the community residents and their animals, teaching them how to provide appropriate care for their pets. We administered medical care to the animals and also made time to give them a little extra love. The residents demonstrated their appreciation by providing us with at least 3 meals a day, occasionally surprising us with cakes or cookies. They were even gracious enough to spend time showing us common tools and clothing from their tribe and sharing stories about their tribal history.

These short trips provide meaningful opportunities for us to connect with animals and the people who are grateful for the help we give them. You are now part of that giving—giving a veterinary student the opportunity to learn, giving an animal the best possible health care, and giving families a healthier environment for their pets. Thank you.

--Andrew Ayre

Dr. Eric Davis developed the HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS) program in 1995 and has served as mentor and inspiration to hundreds of young veterinary professionals over the years. He continues his hard work in the field and is currently a consultant for the program.