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Profiles in Giving

Second Chances

Andrew Kaplan adopted his dog Toby on the day the animal was scheduled to be killed. The decision changed his life.

Kaplan, V90, was already a successful veterinarian when he met Toby, who had been labeled aggressive and therefore unadoptable—a death sentence for a dog in a shelter. Bringing the tail-thumping mutt home inspired him to take more action.

“His case was an eye-opener,” says Kaplan, who runs his own practice, City Veterinary Care, on New York’s Upper West Side. “I thought of the millions of other animals out there like him. I realized that I wanted the legacy of my career to be ending the biggest killer of dogs and cats in this country—overpopulation.”

Kaplan founded the Toby Project, which aims to make New York City a no-kill community by offering free and low-cost spay and neuter services for feral cats and pets of low-income owners.

But Kaplan isn’t just making an impact in New York City; he’s also helping to support other veterinarians in training. When he learned that financial aid was a major priority for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, he established the Dr. Andrew Kaplan Annual Scholarship, which will help fund a fourth-year student with an interest in shelter medicine.

The average debt of a graduating veterinary student now runs close to $155,000. Kaplan’s generosity enables the Cummings School to offer financial aid packages to attract top students, who will subsequently graduate with less debt.

The gift is an extension of his personal philosophy: “When an animal comes through my door, regardless of financial backing, I am going to heal it,” he says. “In life we only truly possess two things: our health and our relationships.” Whether it’s pro bono care for animals or financial aid for students, he says, “We do what we have to do to help.”