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Texas A&M Establishes New Fund to Aid Veterans and their Animals

Posted December 18, 2014

Eli's Fund
Lance Cpl. Colton Rusk and Eli

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – When Sgt. William Cole returned from serving his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he was haunted by nightmares and depression. Traditional therapy and medications failed to heal Cole, but soon a new friend, a Labrador retriever named Hank, would help Cole find peace. Just as Hank was helping Cole get his life back, the young dog fell victim to a car accident after escaping from his backyard, leaving him with severe, life-threatening injuries.

Fortunately for Hank, he was brought to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH), where highly trained veterinarians worked as a team to address Hank's injuries. After initial treatment and surgeries, Cole was told the prognosis was not good for Hank to survive. However, the early intervention and a lengthy stay in the ICU have given Hank a second chance, and for Cole, that was the biggest gift of all.

Due to Cole’s unique circumstances, the VMTH was able to use money from two sources to reduce Hank's more than $11,500 bill significantly. Established to provide financial support for special cases, and in recognition of the special bond between humans and animals, the Capper and Chris Save the Animals Fund was used to help offset the cost of Hank's care. Notable former Texas A&M University student Lowry Mays ’57 also stepped in to help, covering the remainder of Hank's bill.

In response to Hank's story, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) development council member Dr. Mike Moore '79 created Eli's Fund, a new source of financial support for active duty service men and women, medically retired veterans’ service dogs, and retired military dogs with veterinary bills at the CVM. Moore’s original $5,000 gift to the Texas A&M Foundation to create Eli’s Fund honored Colton Rusk, of Orange Grove, Texas, and his military working dog, Eli, whose family Moore knows well through his work on behalf of wounded warriors and their families.

After Rusk’s death in active duty on December 6, 2010, Eli refused to work or even move from Rusk’s cot at their base, so he was released to retire in Orange Grove with Rusk’s family. At that time, Eli was only the second dog in United States history to be granted this honor. The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) has pledged to cover all of Eli’s veterinary care for the rest of his life.

In appreciation of the support he received from the college and animal lovers everywhere, Cole will be donating a portion of the money he raised on Hank's behalf back to the Capper and Chris Save the Animals Fund and to Eli's Fund so that other veterans and military personnel will be able to care for the animals that mean so much to them. Animals play a special role in the lives of their owners, and continued support by generous donors of funds such as the Capper and Chris Save the Animals fund and Eli's Fund will ensure that animals in need and their owners will have access to life-saving care.

You can support Eli's Fund with an online donation. To learn more about how to support either of these funds or create an endowment through the Texas A&M Foundation for the benefit of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please contact the college development office at 979-845-9043 or

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, visit our website at, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Contact Information:

Megan Palsa
979-421-3121 (cell)


Angela Clendenin
979-739-5718 (cell)

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