LEGACY OF COMPASSION: SALLY MORGAN-WELCH AND HER FAMILY FOUNDATION ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE AGAINST FIP
Sally Morgan-Welch noticed that her rescued cat Jakey was lethargic and losing weight. Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)—a nearly always fatal systemic viral disease caused by a mutation in the coronavirus—was suspected. But it wasn’t until he continued his rapid descent and had to be euthanized that the veterinarians were able to determine without a doubt that Jakey had been suffering from the disease.
“I knew it was time to say goodbye to Jakey when he no longer had that spark in his eyes and his fighting spirit was gone,” says Morgan-Welch. “That day I become more determined than ever to fight this dreaded disease, not just for me but for all cat lovers. I’ve always fought for the underdog. I learned that trait from my parents: very compassionate people who had a sense of fairness.”
Growing up as an only child in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Morgan-Welch says she feels lucky to have had parents who appreciated the important bond between animals and people. They shared those values with her, welcoming dogs, ducks, parakeets and parrots into their home. She considered those pets to be her siblings. “We didn’t have a cat when I was growing up, but after I graduated from UC Berkeley, I adopted Myskit, and then came Abby, a cat I rescued from the street,” says Morgan-Welch. “That’s really when my love for cats began.” She became an advocate for animals, and in 2002 established Friends of the Formerly Friendless, a rescue organization that focuses on animals at risk. After her parents passed away, Morgan-Welch set up a family foundation in their memory to continue their legacy of compassion. The foundation supports organizations that are improving the lives of animals and promoting the animal-human bond, as well as groups that advance social justice.
“I knew of Dr. Niels Pedersen, director of the Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH), as he is a world-renowned expert on feline infectious disease, and I had been a client of the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis,” says Morgan-Welch. “So when friends asked me to become involved with raising funds for FIP research, I signed on immediately, because I remembered what happened to Jakey.”
Morgan-Welch joined Save Our Cats and Kittens from Feline Infectious Peritonitis (SOCK FIP), a global consortium that is raising money for and awareness of FIP research at the CCAH. Through the Max T. and Grace D. Morgan Foundation, Morgan-Welch generously helped to support this cause.
“I am not a scientist,” she says, “but I can donate my time and money to fight against FIP. I can’t think of a better legacy in my parents’ memory than making the world a better place for animals and promoting social justice for both people and animals.”
Article by Max T. and Grace D. Morgan was first published in the CCAH Autumn 2009 Newsletter.