In June 2020, LG Electronics Australia recognised and rewarded Jennifer Hunt of Caulfield, Victoria for her incredible efforts in helping those less fortunate to care for their beloved pets.
The reality is around 62 per cent of Australians own a pet and with this comes the likelihood that some may struggle if their pet becomes seriously ill. For the last decade, Jennifer has been helping pensioners and low income families across Victoria keep their furry friends alive by funding veterinary care and relieving financial distress through her not-for-profit, Pet Medical Crisis Fund.
In 2009 when her border collie Jed ruptured several discs in his back, Jennifer felt privileged she could afford the series of required operations in order to keep him alive for another nine years. This sense of privilege inspired her to help those that may not be able to afford the necessary veterinary treatments, so euthanasia is not an option.
While working full-time as a registered nurse in 2010, Jennifer started the charity to prevent unnecessary euthanasia of pets and assist financially and mentally vulnerable members of the community with veterinary bills – by paying the vets directly.
Jennifer knows first-hand the positive impacts a pet can bring to an individual or family from both a physical and mental perspective. She believes all pet owners no matter their backgrounds deserve to keep their pets alive.
We spoke to Jennifer to learn more about her selfless efforts – how she got started, her greatest challenges and the future of Pet Medical Crisis Fund:
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
JH: My Border Collie ‘Jed-the-wonder-dog' was the reason I started Pet Medical Crisis Fund. In 2009, Jed was playing with my 4-year-old son, James, on the beach, when our world changed. While chasing seagulls, Jed ruptured several discs in his back. This started a series of major operations over three years, each costing many thousands of dollars. Fortunately, we had the funds available with the money we had been saving for a new kitchen renovation at the time. Without funds, the only option for Jed would have been euthanasia.
The journey made me realise how lucky we were to still have Jed and how pensioners couldn’t do what I did, so I started a fund to initially help pensioners whose loved pets are in danger of being unnecessarily euthanised. From there, the Pet Medical Crisis Fund was born in 2010. The fund supports disadvantaged owners to meet the high cost of veterinary care.
Jed sadly passed away in 2018 having given me years of devotion, love and inspiration. We’ve made him the founding member of the Pet Medical Crisis Fund and through his legacy pets receive the help they need to stay by their owner’s sides.
LG: How did you come up with the concept?
JH: I’ve been working as a registered nurse for many years and it’s always in my nature to help people in need. It’s a cause close to my heart and I know the bond between a pet and human is often crucial to the mental and physical wellbeing of people. Starting this charity in 2010 seemed like a natural move especially after my own personal experience with Jed.
Owners or vets can apply for assistance through our website, petmedicalcrisis.com.au, and once a plan of care is known and it is established that the owner has exhausted all avenues of funding, the vet is asked to reduce the cost of care to ‘at-cost’ to see if the owner is able to then proceed with funding the care.
The relationships I’ve built with veterinarians over the years has helped me better understand the challenges they have - especially when they are put in situations where low-income families or pensioners can’t afford the vet bills.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
JH: We realise the importance of providing our assistance to vets especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where they have seen an uptake in cases of people needing veterinary support for their pets. Vets have the second highest suicide rate in Australia and continues to be a problem in the industry. This is namely due to stress, long hours and emotional abuse from pet owners. By providing financial assistance to owners across Victoria, it alleviates some of the stress and emotional strain on vets.
We’re also funded primarily by public donations and an ongoing challenge is to make sure financially that we can continue to help disadvantaged pet lovers with medical bills.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
JH: Over the past 10 years we have made a significant impact in communities across Victoria. Pet Medical Crisis is a registered, not-for-profit and tax-deductible charity that has distributed over $500,000 to assist 630 pets and people’s lives with our service.
We’re proud to have structured the charity so no administration costs are taken from public donations and as close to 100 per cent of donations are used to pay for veterinary care. Philanthropy and sponsors who align to our cause, supports our infrastructure so the public can be confident their donation goes where they intend it to go. Our team genuinely cares about the charity’s cause, it’s integrity and we ensure the funds go to veterinary fees and are never paid directly to owners.
LG: What is next for you and your initiative?
JH: We’re really proud to have accomplished so much in Victoria and have assisted owners and pets from over 70 Veterinary clinics across the state. Our next step is to expand nationally to cover more regions and continue our efforts to help owners who need support to keep their pets alive and well.
LG Electronics Australia would like to thank Jennifer for her kindness and compassion for her incredible efforts in helping those less fortunate to care for their beloved pets. We wish Jennifer our best as she continues to grow and expand Pet Medical Crisis Fund nationally.
If you know someone like Jennifer making positive contributions through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting www.lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend. We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!