An estimated 23 million pets live with families at or below the national poverty line in the United States. Families that cannot financially provide for their veterinary care.

The Access to Veterinary Care Coalition (AVCC) calls them underserved populations of pets, which AVCC defines as pets with owners whose demographic, geographic, or economic characteristics impede or prevent access to veterinary care services for their pets.

When these pets become ill or get injured, their families have limited options to help them. Their unmet health needs result in prolonged illnesses and premature death, negatively impact the mental and emotional wellbeing of the family, and pose an unacceptable threat to public health.

AVCC, a diverse group of for-profit and nonprofit veterinary services providers, animal welfare and social services professionals, and educators, was formed to draw attention to this lack of access to veterinary care and to educate the veterinary profession and communities about it.

Working in association with the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work and the Veterinary Social Work program at the College of Veterinary Medicine, AVCC is conducting a national study of pet owners, including populations with inadequate access to veterinary care, and veterinary service providers, to identify barriers that households face, as well as best practices among those delivering veterinary care to underserved pet owners.

The first phase of the study surveyed pet owners across the socioeconomic spectrum. Now it’s the caregivers turn.

You can assist in this important work by taking the survey. All answers are confidential and the survey shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to complete.

The results will be published in a seminal report and widely distributed to help guide veterinarians, animal welfare organizations, legislators, community leaders, and others as they seek to improve access to veterinary care for pets currently without it.

The survey was made possible with funding from Maddie's Fund®. Maddie’s Fund was founded in 1994 by Workday cofounder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, they have awarded more than $153 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the United States.

Photo credit: © iStock/alexsl

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