WASHINGTON—As inflation pushes prices higher, many families across the country are struggling to afford veterinary care, food and supplies for their beloved pets. Nowhere is this more acute than for families who were already experiencing systemic poverty. According to the latest consumer price index, the cost of pet products and services is up by more than 9% year over year. With more than 20 million pets living in poverty—a number three times greater than the number of pets entering shelters every year—this is a long overlooked national crisis. People are often forced to choose between meeting their own needs and the needs of their pets, and too often they completely lack access to veterinary care, pet inclusive housing, and other vital pet resources like food and supplies. No family should ever be in this position.
To address this issue, the Humane Society of the United States has launched a new campaign called More Than a Pet, with the help of our campaign partners Smalls, Ollie, Motel 6, TQL and others. The mission of the campaign is to raise awareness and provide solutions to increase access and keep families and their pets together, happy and healthy. Grammy-winning musician Mya is also supporting the campaign along with her dogs Tango, Jemma and Jax and her cat Journey.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said: "Everyone deserves to experience the love and companionship of a pet. But the welfare of companion animals is inseparable from the well-being of their families, and unequal access to pet care and resources is an overlooked national crisis. By helping people access the pet care they need, we embrace the human in ‘humane.’ We believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy, love and comfort that pets provide, and every family should be able to get the food, supplies and medical care their animal needs."
Over the past 20 years, the HSUS has helped nearly half a million pets and their families by providing veterinary care and supplies at no cost, through its Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services programs. Families like Janis and her two dogs in Idaho rely on the services of local Pets for Life partners like Better Together Animal Alliance. Janis’ senior Chihuahua, Baby, saw a veterinarian multiple times to address severe eye and ear issues. Her poodle mix Freeda received a much-appreciated bath and grooming.
As Janis shared, "It takes a community sometimes. I am so grateful for Pets for Life. I don't know what I'd do without them."
Without these services, families like Janis’ are often forced to make difficult choices about sacrificing their own needs, even food and medications for themselves, to prioritize care for their pet. More Than a Pet will build on the legacy of Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services to help more families like Janis’.
As part of More Than a Pet, the HSUS is offering these tips for people to support their communities:
- Advocate for keeping pets and their people together by signing the HSUS petition to close the pet equity gap. Your voice can make a big impact for all animals.
- Volunteer with the Humane Society of the United States’ Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services programs, which increase access to pet care for underserved communities.
- Donate pet food to your local shelter or pet food pantry.
- If you know of a neighbor in need, offer to help drive them to a veterinary appointment, foster their pet temporarily or provide a bag of their pet’s favorite food to help close the access to pet care gap.
- The HSUS is inviting the public to show their support for this campaign by sharing why their animal companion is #MoreThanAPet to them, at humanesociety.org/morethanapet. Campaign partner Smalls is donating a bowl of food for every photo shared, up to $1M, to pets and their families in need.
- Rodi Rosensweig