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Arizona Veterinarian Raises Facebook Funds for Australian Wildlife Relief

Wednesday, January 8, 2020  
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A Letter from Dr. Todd Driggers

In November of 2018, I spoke at the Australian Chapter Association of Avian Veterinarians and the Unusual Pet Veterinary Conference in Adelaide, South Australia. During that trip, the Australian colleagues took me out to the bush and showed me native fauna and visited caregiver (wildlife rehabilitator) facilities. The conference fostered relationships that were maintained both through Facebook, emails, and even a visit where we hosted a colleague in Arizona.

As news of the widespread wildfires raged and visuals of the native wildlife flashed across social media, I decided to run a Facebook fundraiser to send perhaps $2,000 to a couple of colleagues to offset financial burdens they may incur treating the native wildlife. Many Americans were feeling the same helplessness that I was, and within 12 hours, we raised the target goal. Making a long story short, the news stations began to call, and four days later, we have raised just over $37,000. While the intent was only to support them with money, our Aussie colleagues requested assistance, and many clients encouraged me to go. Last night, I was granted temporary licensure to practice in three Australian states, including New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory, for wildlife medicine. I will be leaving next week when given my assignment and schedule. During the posting comments, an Aussie mate has pledged to cover lodging, and a pilot has offered low-cost airfare.  

As many of you may know who have been following the news, the bush fires have affected over 12 million acres, and early estimates are that a half-billion animals have died in the blazes. Surviving injured wildlife, if found, are being taken to caregivers and veterinarians. Finding the live, injured wildlife in a timely fashion may be the limiting factor in helping to conserve many endangered and threatened native wildlife. It is beyond painful to consider that the injured wildlife may be too weak due to fire injury and dying in agony.      

Many of my Arizona and US colleagues have graciously made donations to the account, which 100% will go the care of wildlife for both medical services and services provided by the caregivers incurred by finding, feeding, and rehabilitating native wildlife. While assisting, I will identify/request and fund individuals who are willing to go into the bush and secure the wildlife that may have a chance to survive. The funding given by you (colleagues, acquaintances, and clients) will be granted for gas, food, water, capture equipment, and kennels for local caregivers doing primary relief and recovery. The secured patients will then be in field triage and either euthanized (if suffering) or taken into the operation field station or nearest veterinary center for further treatment. I have made financial commitments to a fruit bat rescue, a black cockatoo conservation fund, and Adelaide Koala Rescue. If any funding remains at the end of my time in Australia, I will donate to other various 501(c)3 charitable equivalents that support the conservation and habitat restoration programs recommended by my Aussie colleagues.

I want to thank you colleagues, clients, and acquaintances who have graciously funded, assisted, and reposted the fundraiser. Please continue to do so, and please say a prayer for wisdom, for financial stewardship, safety and that we can have a positive impact on the conservation of the wildlife resources. An extraordinary thanks go out to my wife Heather, veterinarians (Drs. McLaughlin, Scagnelli, and Funk), and staff at the Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic of Arizona who will be holding the fort down in my absence.

Donations may be made to the Facebook Fundraiser through this link: For my Aussie Colleagues and Wildlife Carers. Donations to the fundraiser will be applied 100% to the care of wildlife for both medical services and services provided by the caregivers incurred by finding, feeding, and rehabilitating native wildlife". Also, donations may be made through the Arizona Veterinary Medical Foundation (AzVMF). Indicate in the “Donor Comments” section to apply the donation for the “Wildlife Relief Fund”. All proceeds to the AzVMF for the Australian wildlife relief fund will go directly toward veterinary care and no administrative expenses will be taken from donations.

Todd Driggers, DVM
Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic of Arizona