In part I of this series we described the basic format and rational for veterinary hospice in this edition we’ll examine the possible roles that hospice organizations might strive to fulfill within the community.

There are basically two types of hospice, for profit business models and not for profit organizations. This simplest distinction merits some consideration because it is at this basic level that society measures its contract with any group, organization or individual.

Nonprofit status distinguishes an otherwise commercial activity as tax exempt, absolving the enterprise from the burden of paying federal, state or local taxes. Tax exempt status instead implies another kind of obligation – community service.

Selling tires may be construed as a community service particularly if you‘re the one needing tires, however the service while it may benefit the individual and ultimately the community is not tax exempt because it falls under the larger domain of commerce which in turn renders tax revenue to the government. Government therefore that must provide community services not generally conceived as commercial in nature; emergency services, infrastructure, education, policing etc.

What falls between therefore are those services typically identified as necessary to the welfare of the community as a whole. For these services government is satisfied to forego tax income and let private organizations to the task.

Churches, hospitals, civic or charitable organizations, and hospice to name a few are examples of community organizations that may therefore opt to claim tax exemption but their service then becomes part of the "community chest".

By defining an organization as tax exempt the directors must be obligated to pursue some form of community service and the degree to which they are successful in that pursuit will define the organization’s role in the community.

Not for profit veterinary hospice like human hospice should make an effort to intercede on behalf of the community whenever the opportunity presents itself. If the community has inadequate facilities for the welfare of families with companion animals then a food bank may be the solution. If elderly owners have no recourse for the care of their companion animals then an active fostering and adoption program could help. In communities where veterinary care is either nonexistent or simply overwhelmed air ambulance would be a significant contribution to the companion animal population.

In short as veterinary hospice organizations across the country come into their own it seems likely that a variety of models will emerge. There will be take-in hospice facilities and hospice support organizations, profit and non profit, subsidiary organizations and stand alone societies and ultimately it will be the individual community that will steer the development of these organization.

Veterinary hospice must be as broadly defined as the need is pressing. The human/animal bond will be best served by a system that embraces all forms of the social contract between compassionate veterinary hospice care organizations and the communities they serve.

Join us live via Twitter for the Veterinary Hospice Symposium at UC Davis beginning Sat. 9.5. Use the Twitter gadget on our side bar to comment or ask questions. Taxi