Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Programs Assist Pet Owners Facing Tough Times

Some pet owner are seeking temporary assistance to keep their companion animals through the economic downturn, and veterinary practices can refer them to a patchwork of programs that help with big veterinary bills or routine animal care.

The recession has increased the demand and diminished resources for these programs, some of which operate through veterinary associations and colleges, but the programs still offer potential relief for pet owners who have lost a job or a home.

American Animal Hospital Association Helping Pets Fund
Unemployed pet owners increasingly are the beneficiaries of grants from the AAHA Helping Pets Fund. Since its inception in 2005, the Helping Pets Fund has awarded about $800,000 to help about $3,000 pets receive treatment for illness or injury. The fund offers grants to AAHA-accredited hospitals of up to $500 annually toward the treatment of pets whose owners are experiencing financial hardship and $20 annually toward the treatment of abandoned pets.

According to Jason Merrihew, spokesman for AAHA, "the fund is definitely something we want to grow so we can help more pets in need."

College - association funds
Veterinary organizations have created a number of small scale programs to assist pet owners with veterinary bills. In certain cases, veterinary colleges will subsidize care for pets at teaching hospitals. Some state and local veterinary associations offer assistance within their areas.

Additional assistance
Along with veterinary organizations, other nonprofit groups subsidize veterinary care at the national and regional level. Some programs focus on specific species, breeds, or medical conditions. Many provide free or low-cost spay and neuter procedures and routine preventive medicine. Pet owners can also turn to humane organizations and other groups for help with animal care other than veterinary services. Programs range from pet food pantries to temporary foster care.

Sources for assistance with veterinary bills and other animal care:
To view the entire article published in the October 2009 JAVMA visit Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association.

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