A veterinary college is chock full of people who love animals. From highly skilled surgeons in the hospital, to investigators in the laboratories, to students who volunteer at shelters, they all work hard to provide the best possible lives for animals. Outside the college, but integrally connected, is another group of animal lovers: those who work as partners by learning about college goals, and providing the missing pieces needed to reach new heights of excellence.
Ron and Marlene Izatt are that kind of animal lover. At home on their acreage in southeast Washington, they have two dogs and a horse, but in the past, they have had as many as four horses, four dogs, and four cats. It seems to depend on what their neighbors are up to.
“The neighbor’s dog brought Miss Poppy home when she was about six months old,” says Marlene. “She ran with that dog for a month or two, but because she wasn’t potty-trained, they left her outside in the dead of winter. You can’t do that with a Chihuahua, so another neighbor took her home, and I offered to potty-train her.” One thing led to another, and Miss Poppy ended up a member of the Izatt family. Lucky dog.
Their other dog, Jackson, was dropped off at a farm nearby. “They get a lot of dogs dropped off out there, so they were going to shoot him,” says Marlene. “I went and got him and was bringing him home, driving 60 miles per hour down the highway, and the poor dog apparently thought I was going to drop him off again so he climbed into my lap . . . and he is a big dog!” Marlene took Jackson to a rescue group, but she felt so terrible, imagining him in a car headed somewhere else, she called the group and asked to adopt him. “They had already shipped Jackson to a shelter in Portland, and had him on a website for adoption, so I drove down and got him, and he’s been ours ever since.”
The Izatts also drove way out of their way to get their horse: about 300 miles to the Steens Mountains in southeast Oregon. There the Bureau of Land Management is desperately in need of adoptive families for their 40,000 wild mustangs. “I really try to get people to go there and get horses from them, because they are such awesome animals,” says Marlene.
Now the Izatts are showing their love of animals by supporting veterinary students.
Ron Izatt is an OSU alumnus, but he and Marlene were more familiar with the hospital at Washington State University, where they had received excellent care for their dog. They had been discussing ways to help support the WSU hospital, when a chance meeting with OSU Dean of Pharmacy, Mark Zabriskie, steered them in another direction. “He said, ‘But you are an OSU alumni; wouldn’t you like to help us?’” says Ron. Zabriskie gave them a quick update on the accomplishments of the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, and encouraged them to investigate further.
“I went on the internet to look up OSU Vet Med and I was really impressed,” says Ron. After several conversations with Development Director Kelley Marchbanks, the Izatts made a decision: as part of their estate planning, they have committed funds to establish the Ronald and Marlene Izatt Veterinary Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide a full-ride, expenses-paid, fourth year for an exceptional veterinary student. This estate gift will have a big impact on the future, but the Izatts also wanted to help now, so they provided additional funds to support a scholarship this year.
Why did they choose scholarship funding? “Vet students have a tremendous debt, and don’t earn as much as medical doctors,” says Ron. In fact, the average debt for a graduating veterinary student in the U.S. is $150,000, and the average starting salary is $68,000. The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine works hard to provide scholarship relief for their students. In 2016, every student in the college who applied for scholarships, received some level of support. That could not have been done without friends like Ron and Marlene Izatt.