The AlignCare starting line

Published on August 14, 2019

The subsidized veterinary care system AlignCare, out of the Program for Pet Health Equity at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is preparing to get off the ground in the next few months with pilot sites that implement the model in their communities.

AlignCare was among the topics discussed during the first Access to Veterinary Care Symposium, hosted by the PPHE, held June 28-29 in Knoxville, Tennessee (see story). Further details, including how much funding each site will receive, how long the pilot program will last, and who will be involved at each site, were not available at press time in late July.

AlignCare is a subsidized veterinary care system that uses incremental veterinary care, facilitates community-based or grassroots funding, and engages social service agencies and social workers to break down barriers to veterinary care for underserved and low-income families, specifically those families on food stamps.

The tentative pilot sites include the following:

  • Asheville, North Carolina.
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Denver.
  • Findlay, Ohio.
  • Houston.
  • Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • Miami.
  • Pomona, California.
  • Phoenix.
  • Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

Knoxville, Tennessee, will likely be the first community to offer AlignCare to low-income families that need veterinary care for their pets, but Asheville, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida, are among the other areas that may begin implementing the program soon, according to Dr. Michael Blackwell, PPHE director. The PPHE is also looking for parallel sites that are interested in getting AlignCare off the ground but will not be listed as official pilot sites.

Plus, the PPHE is encouraging social workers interested in working with veterinarians to complete the 500 hours required to obtain the UT veterinary social worker certificate. Mental health professionals working in pilot site areas can apply for a scholarship that covers the cost of the certificate.

The handbook the pilot sites are working from will be used as a guide to get the program going in their communities. It will be available to the public by the fall, according to Dr. Blackwell.


Get more information about the University of Tennessee's Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program for social workers, and about the report "Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Current Practices, and Public Policy" from the university's Program for Pet Health Equity.


Related JAVMA content:

Veterinary care for all (Sep. 1, 2019)

Report outlines barriers to accessing veterinary care, possible solutions (Feb. 15, 2019)

$2.8M grant to aid access to veterinary care (Sept. 15, 2018)

Coalition wants veterinary access for economically at-risk pets (Dec. 01, 2016)

Back to Basics (Dec. 01, 2016)