Update January 2017: This story was updated to include more resources for pet owners in the USA. There are also new sources of financial aid for animal rescue groups and individual pet owners who live in Canada.
The idea for this story came from a reader who wrote to ask about the resources available when pet owners can’t afford veterinary bills. The woman was having trouble making ends meet financially due to the ongoing cost of the treatment needed for her paralyzed Dachshund. Last year the 4 year-old dog suffered a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) stroke that left her unable to walk. But thanks to the veterinary care she was receiving, the dog was making good progress in her recovery.
This isn’t the first time I’ve received a request for financial help from a pet parent and it’s not the first time I’ve heard about the paradox between the lifesaving treatments modern veterinary medicine has to offer and the ability of people to afford them.
This dilemma started me on a journey to find some answers. I realized there must be countless pet owners trying to track down organizations that can help. The task reminded me of all the scholarships that are available to students, but go unused because people don’t know where to find them. I knew aid was out there if I searched hard enough.
The first and most obvious answer to the problem popped up on the Internet right away. Veterinary bills can be contained with pet insurance. I’m an advocate of insurance for dogs and cats, but I also know from personal experience that many of the policies have limitations; especially when it comes to long term rehabilitation therapy and ongoing care. So I dug deeper to find organizations that were set up to provide assistance.
I discovered there are lots of wonderful agencies that offer financial aid to pet parents. Most of the organizations are set up to provide grant money to pay for veterinary bills and some are based on the type of health problem your dog or cat has, but ALL of them offer the exact kind of help owners need most often.
Here is the list of the organizations that help nationwide:
New Dr. Steve Abrams Memorial Foundation – PetSavers, Inc. – Grants are awarded for sick and injured pets whom, otherwise would not be treated due to the finances of their owners. Their vision is to eliminate the euthanasia of pets because of economics. Applicants must meet these criteria: Have verifiable financial need, denied by CareCredit or a similar program, and have a favorable prognosis from a veterinarian.
Banfield Charitable Trust HOPE Fund – The pet must be a patient at a Banfield Pet Hospital and funds are determined by each clinic.
The Big Hearts Fund – Financial aid for dogs and cats with heart disease.
Brown Dog Foundation – This agency assists with the cost of prescription medications.
New Violet’s Friends – This grant program from Oscar Newman LLC gives aid for urgent and critical veterinary care. Grants assist with surgery, therapy and mobility problems. The group is part of Pets With Disabilities, a nonprofit organization that rescues and rehomes disabled dogs.
The Dog & Cat Cancer Fund – The group helps with the treatment of dogs and cats with cancer.
New American Veterinary Care Charitable Fund – A grant for this program must be submitted by a veterinarian. The program was created as a way to give veterinarians a way to offer charitable services to clients facing financial hardships. Aid is geared toward senior citizens, disabled veterans, rescued animals and victims of domestic violence.
Dylan’s Hearts – A nonprofit agency that aids families struggling financially to pay for veterinary care.
Friends & Vets – This organization assists when your pet needs financial help for “extraordinary” veterinary expenses to save their life.
Harley’s Hope Foundation – A group that gives financial aid for major illnesses and emergency veterinary care.
Hope Mending Heart – A grant program started by a veterinarian to help pet parents afford surgery and post-operative care.
New Pet Assistance, Inc. – PAi provides emergency veterinary subsidies to pet owners in financial need. Pets must have a good prognosis.
Magic Bullet Fund – The group provides assistance for dogs fighting cancer.
Paws 4 A Cure – A nonprofit group that aids families whose dogs and cats are in need of non-routine veterinary care.
New Wag! Community Pet Surgery Donation Program – This is a new twist for financial aid. It is a crowdfunding community that raises money for pet owners with unforeseen and costly pet surgery bills. These are emergency grants. Applicants must have their own GoFundMe, PlumFund or PetChance account.
The Pet Fund – A nonprofit group that provides assistance to pets in need of veterinary care for cancer treatment, heart disease and other non-basic or emergency care.
RedRover Relief – This nonprofit organization offers grant money so pet caregivers can afford urgent and emergency veterinary treatment for their pets.
Shakespeare Animal Fund – An agency that helps pets and their people in need.
New The Gandalf Fund – This program offers financial aid for working and retired assistance dogs who have suffered an acute or prolonged illness or injury.
The ASPCA recommends that pet parents in need of financial aid talk with their veterinarian about setting up a payment plan before seeking out a national grant. And if you live in the area of a veterinary school of medicine, the ASPCA suggests you check out their programs for veterinary care and clinical trials. Many of these programs are comprehensive and free. And finally if you are a senior citizen, be sure to ask your veterinary hospital if they give a senior discount.
In addition, the 30-year-old CareCredit company offers financing to pet owners who cannot afford a veterinary procedure. This is a healthcare credit card program.
Here are organizations that assist animal rescue groups pay for veterinary care:
American Humane Second Chance Grants – These grants are open to public and private “animal sheltering agencies” and rescue groups. Funds are used to cover medical procedures for animals that have been victims of abuse or neglect and require treatment before they can be placed for adoption.
Grey Muzzle Organization – Grants are provided to animal welfare organizations and rescue groups to help homeless senior dogs. Grey Muzzle’s vision is to create a “world where no old dog dies alone and afraid.”
ISF Emergency Medical Care Grants – This is part of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. The grant program assists rescue groups and on occasion individual rescuers. They pay for the medical care of animals recovering from abuse, neglect or injuries from a traumatic event. Their goal is to offset the financial burden to nonprofits that need to medically treat and rehabilitate homeless pets.
New financial aid resources for pet owners in Canada
Here are resources in Canada where pet parents can turn for financial assistance with veterinary bills.
The Farley Foundation – This program was founded in 2001 by artist and cartoonist, Lynn Johnston, who writes the syndicated comic strip, For Better or For Worse®. The foundation subsidizes the cost of non-elective veterinary care for pets whose families live in Ontario.
Kona’s Coalition – This organization provides financial aid for acute veterinary care. They do not cover funds for ongoing illnesses such as cancer or routine care.
Land of PureGold Foundation – Financial aid for this program is pretty specific. They award $1,000 grants in Canada and the USA to pay for oncology related expenses for working dogs. To qualify dogs must have been active, full-time working dogs in the fields of: detection, search and rescue, law enforcement, military or animal-assisted therapy.
Animal Cancer Therapy Subsidization Society – ACTSS subsidizes the cost of cancer treatment for pets living in Alberta.
Give some love
All of the organizations listed above could use some love. That could come in the form of donations or public awareness so please feel free to check out their social media sites and spread the word to other pet parents about the good work they do. If this story has been helpful, I’d appreciate your love too by sharing it with friends.