AVMA members care passionately about expanding access to quality veterinary care, which plays a role in both animal and public health. As an association, the AVMA is working to expand access to care through programs both large and small.
These programs range from hands-on charitable efforts to advocating for legislation and policies that increase access to veterinary care in rural communities through student loan support, federal grants, and other assistance. We’ve also initiated a project to identify and build on practice models that are succeeding in helping overcome barriers to access in various parts of the country.
AVMA Access to Care Initiative
Born out of the AVMA House of Delegates’ Veterinary Information Forum, the AVMA Access to Care Initiative aims to expand access to veterinary care among underserved populations. To kick it off, we’ve convened a working group of stakeholders who are collecting information about how existing programs, practices, and tools are overcoming barriers to veterinary care. Once this information has been gathered, it will be distilled into practice models, which will help veterinarians evaluate opportunities to expand access to care in their communities based on their unique situations.
As this initiative evolves, its scope is designed to respond to needs across different sectors of veterinary medicine, and to provide resources for individual veterinarians, traditional practices, and non-profit organizations.
Meanwhile, we’re also collaborating with other groups that are working on this issue, sharing information to better understand the landscape related to access to care. For example, AVMA staff recently participated in an Access to Care Symposium hosted by the Program for Pet Health Equity at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
AVMA cares: Connecting AVMA Convention-goers with needy pet owners
The AVMA Cares program at AVMA Convention merges wellbeing for owners with care for pets. In Washington, D.C., volunteers at AVMA Convention 2019 packed more than 100 hygiene kits in just 25 minutes to hand out to pet owners experiencing homelessness. The next day, in partnership with the Street Dog Coalition and supported by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Zoetis Petcare, volunteers provided hands-on care for some of these pets. Pop-up clinics similar to the AVMA Cares street clinic offer services such as basic examinations, rabies and core vaccinations, parasite control, microchipping when requested, and treatment of minor skin, eye and ear problems.
“Hill's Pet Nutrition is happy to support the AVMA Cares initiative and its pop-up clinic to provide health checks and basic care to dogs in need,” said Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn, chief professional veterinary officer of Hill's US. “Hill's is proud to work with AVMA, and this event is a great fit with our mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets.”
“We welcome this opportunity to work with AVMA to give back to the D.C. community in ways that help both animals and people,” said Dr. Tara Bidgood, executive director of veterinary professional services at Zoetis Petcare. “Every day, we go to work at Zoetis believing that we can make a difference in improving lives—and by contributing our time and medications for pets, we are able to make a small difference in many lives today.”
AVMF Veterinary Care Charitable Fund (VCCF)
Another important program expanding access to veterinary care is our foundation’s Veterinary Care Charitable Fund®. This initiative of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) provides veterinarians with a simple and effective way to provide charitable care when clients face personal hardships or when animals are rescued from abuse and neglect. Enrolled veterinary hospitals have a way to offer low- or no-cost services to clients who might otherwise be forced to surrender or euthanize their beloved pets.
AVMA members can enroll for free and receive a welcome kit to assist in marketing and fundraising. Charitable donations collected through the program may be used to provide care to those in need, including:
- Disabled veterans requiring a service dog
- Low-income senior citizens
- Good Samaritans who rescue domesticated animals
- Victims of domestic violence
Learn more about the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund® at vccfund.org.