$18M investment boosts Canadian pets’ access to care

The PetSmart Charities of Canada contribution aims to break down geographic, cultural, and financial barriers

PetSmart Charities of Canada is committing $18 million in funding over five years to help break down the geographic, cultural, and financial barriers preventing pets from receiving necessary veterinary care.  Ensuring pets across the Great White North receive sufficient access to veterinary care is the goal of a significant long-term investment from PetSmart Charities of Canada.

The non-profit organization is committing $18 million in funding over five years to help break down the geographic, cultural, and financial barriers preventing pets from receiving necessary veterinary care.

Nearly one in five pet owners in Canada have wanted or needed preventive care for their animals, but have not been able to access it due to affordability or inability to get an appointment, PetSmart Charities of Canada reports. Without regular veterinary care, minor health issues often become bigger, costlier problems. Additionally, preventable diseases can be passed on to people and other pets.

Through this newly announced funding, the organization says it will take a multi-faceted approach to help improve access to adequate veterinary care for all pets, including:

  • Funding solutions across the system of veterinary care, from investing in new and more affordable types of clinics to working directly with providers to help them overcome challenges in care delivery.
  • Supporting innovative solutions of care (i.e. telehealth, remote service models).
  • Partnering with universities to research the evolving needs of pets and developing new and cost-effective ways to deliver care.
  • Expanding access to lower-cost veterinary care through sustainable non-profit clinics.
  • Developing community-based models to improve access to veterinary care in underserved communities with an emphasis of addressing unique challenges within these groups.

While affordability remains the most prominent barrier to veterinary care, additional challenges contribute to the current gap, including:

  • The veterinary shortage (i.e. the nationwide growth of pet ownership outpacing the availability of veterinary professionals)
  • Veterinary deserts and cultural inclusion (i.e. a shortage of access to care in Canada’s more remote regions, as well as a lack of diversity within the profession, which can create cultural divides between veterinarians and clients)
  • Economic challenges for pet owners
  • Regulatory challenges (i.e. fragmented and varied veterinary regulations, which can create barriers for solutions such as telemedicine and low-cost clinics)

PetSmart Charities of Canada estimates it would cost more than $5 billion annually to bridge the gap for pets currently receiving no veterinary care.

“The challenges facing the veterinary care system are vast and varied and no single organization can solve them alone,” says the group’s president, Aimee Gilbreath. “Through [this] commitment, we plan to invest further in our partners and build new alliances to innovate solutions across the entire system, while also funding long-term solutions already in place such as low-cost vet clinics. We’re confident this approach will produce sustainable change within the veterinary care industry. Our best friends deserve access to adequate health care like any family member.”

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