The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at PJ’s Pub & Grill, 116 Walton St. Jamie Pomilio-Mulcahy and her husband, WSTM-Channel 3 news anchor Matt Mulcahy, of Fayetteville founded the fund last January in memory of their poodle, Shamrock. He would have turned 19 two months later on St. Patrick’s Day. The Mulcahys spent a significant amount of money and time in waiting rooms tending to Shamrock during the last year of his life. “We witnessed a lot of emotion—not because people were given a terminal diagnosis for their animal, but because at some point it’s just difficult to afford the care, especially when it’s an emergency situation or orthopedic surgery,” said Jamie. “It gets very expensive, no matter where you go.”
The fund helps pay for veterinary care for animals whose owners have financial need. The fund also serves as an educational resource and avenue for pet owners to connect with established veterinarians.
While the fund’s main base of operation is Onondaga County, more than 100 people have contacted the Mulcahys for assistance from nine different counties including Oswego, Madison and Cortland. So far, a dozen veterinary hospitals have helped 20 pets: 18 dogs and two cats. McGonigle, Fatcheric and Losito are the three veterinarians who jumpstarted its progress, said Jamie.
McGonigle entered veterinary practice in 2002. She’s a third-year resident at Cornell from Freehold, N.J., working toward her board certification in internal medicine for canine and feline patients. “I have such a personal attachment to the fund because I worked with Jamie and Matt for such a long time,” she said. “It’s exciting that this is just year one and already a lot of good has been done.”
McGonigle cared for Shamrock and subsequently three or four other dogs since the fund began. Shamrock was a “favorite sweet and spunky patient,” she noted. He died from multiple health issues including kidney failure and pulmonary hypertension.
The dogs McGonigle works with usually present chronic problems, she said, and she makes sure they get the testing they need for diagnosis. Jamie described McGonigle as the fund’s “go-to person” because whenever animals have been referred to Cornell, “she’s always been there.”
Kathy Adams from Fayetteville worked with McGonigle last year through the fund after she saw that her dog was urinating blood and stopped eating and drinking. “I was in a position where I had two college-aged girls, lost child support and had been trying to make by with a very low salary,” said Adams. “And then my dog got sick.”
Jamie connected Adams and her 4-yearold Maltese Emmie with McGonigle. Adams and Emmie spent the entire day under the veterinarian’s care. “Dr. McGonigle was very concerned,” said Adams. “She explained everything and was not rushed with me. She was thorough and kind and when I left there, I felt like she did everything she could.”
Four months later, Emmie is doing better and Adams’ new vet still keeps in touch with McGonigle for advice and updates.
The remaining honorees, Fatcheric and Losito, both graduated from Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1988 and now work at Fairmount—the first veterinary clinic that contacted the Mulcahys to offer assistance. “The week that we started doing this, they contacted us, wanted to know what they could do to help, and how they could help,” said Jamie. “They were just so welcoming to our fund and so responsive to what we’re trying to do in the community for animals.”
Fatcheric, a Syracuse native, is a smallanimal practitioner. She joined Fairmount in 1992. “I knew when I was 8 years old that I was going to be a veterinarian and I was lucky enough to make it all the way through,” she said. “I knew it right from the very beginning and it’s been a really rewarding career.
I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Losito, from Marcellus, joined Fairmount in 1988. Her interests lie in veterinary internal medicine, endocrinology and geriatrics.
“She’s a great doctor,” said Fatcheric. “Her clients love her and she really loves the animals—she’s got about a hundred of her own.”
Losito’s house is home to three horses, three goats, four dogs, four cats, a rabbit, guinea pig, parrot and a saltwater fish tank, Fatcheric explained, laughing.
Fatcheric, Losito and Dr. Erin Corrigan, another small animal practitioner from Liverpool, all partnered with the fund on six or seven different cases like expensive dental procedures and trauma injuries including a dog that was hit by a car and broke his leg. “It’s nice for us veterinary professionals, through the Shamrock Animal Fund, to be able to give back a little,” said Fatcheric.
“The way the fund works, the Shamrock Animal Fund pays a part of the bill, the owner pays what they can afford to pay, and we discount our services. Unfortunately, it costs a lot to provide the kind of care we provide, so it’s a really positive thing for us to be able to contribute to the well-being of the pets of our community.”
Although the fund will work with any veterinarian, these three are particularly phenomenal, said Jamie. “I wouldn’t call them the main veterinarians, but the first. They’re all wonderful and their help has been ongoing. We certainly could honor more and we will in the future.”
Last year, about 120 people attended Shamrock’s Celebration, and this year’s goal is 200. As of last week, 170 spots were reserved. The Mulcahys will show a video that they shot a few weeks ago that highlights most of the pets and owners—including Adams and Emmie—that the fund helped within the past year.
The event includes plenty of food, cheesecake bites from Big Mama’s Cheesecakes and beverages. Silent and live auctions will include items from local donors like Stickley furniture, M. Lemp Jewelers, Cazenovia Jewelry, Metro Mattress and the Syracuse University men’s basketball team. There will be live entertainment, including a performance by Syracuse’s Emerald City Scottish Pipe Band.
Tickets are $50 per person. Reservations, payment, or personal donations may be made online at www.shamrockanimalfund.com.
March sadness: After losing their beloved poodle, Shamrock, Matt
Mulcahy and Jamie Pomilio-Mulcahy channeled their grief into creating a
fund to assist other animal owners facing oppressive veterinary bills. (pictured above)