Nearly 50 million pets in the U.S. do not have access to basic veterinary care. One of the ways that the Humane Society of the United States is addressing this problem is through its Rural Area Veterinary Services program, which is receiving $50,000 from PetSmart Charities.
Due to cost and other barriers, pets in underserved communities often do not receive essential services such as preventative care, vaccinations, spay/neuter services, dental and other medical care. In the U.S., 70% of homes include pets. As research continues to reveal the benefits of the human-animal bond, a movement is underway to connect pet parents to the health care their pets need to keep them and their families healthy.
The grant will support pets and pet parents in rural Native nations communities where veterinary care is scarce or nonexistent. RAVS operates week-long clinics that provide vaccines, preventive treatments, spay/neuter, and urgent lifesaving care for more than 500 animals. The team expects to treat more than 8,000 animals this year. These services are crucial, as animals affected by preventable and treatable conditions are among the most common cases the RAVS team sees.
“Many families don’t have access to basic veterinary services for their beloved pets,” said Windi Wojdak, senior director of the RAVS program for the Humane Society of the United States. “This lack of access has impacts beyond animal welfare as human family members also experience distress when their pets are unable to get the care they need. Our veterinary outreach teams provide essential services to improve animal health and support wellbeing so that animals can thrive.”
In addition to direct care veterinary services, RAVS provides clinical mentorship to veterinary students with the help of veterinary professional volunteers who contribute their time and expertise on clinics throughout the year. The program also works closely with community partners to build local capacity and sustainable services by supporting outreach and community-based animal care projects.
According to the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, pets make a significant impact in the health and wellness of the people they love. This grant funding will help more families in need receive the veterinary care that ensures pets live long, healthy lives.
“Pets are integral members of families,” said Kelly Balthazor, senior community grants manager at PetSmart Charities. "It’s our mission to make lives better for pets, and that includes supporting local connections to affordable veterinary care. The benefits of parenting pets shouldn’t belong exclusively to those with privilege. If we can alleviate some financial burden, it’s an important step in keeping pets and people together.”