It’s not uncommon for clinics to encounter pet owners who have fallen on hard times, for one reason or another, but still seek care for their pets. Veterinarians generally want to offer charitable care, but that’s not always financially feasible.
To help practitioners take on these cases so animals can get the care they need, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, in partnership with Merck Animal Health, announced April 15 that the AVMF is launching the new National Veterinary Charitable Care Grant Program. Created to help individuals and families unable to afford care for sick or injured pets in certain situations, the program reimburses AVMA members who provide services at discounted rates or at no charge.
“This program is designed to improve access-to-care issues, especially as they relate to ongoing financial hardship due to COVID-19 and domestic violence,” said Dr. David Granstrom, AVMF assistant executive director, in an AVMF press release. He added the program also contributes to the well-being of the veterinary health care team and members of the public struggling to afford veterinary care for their pets.
The new National Veterinary Charitable Care Grant Program uses the resources of the Foundation to raise funding and streamlines the process of reimbursement to veterinarians. The program is supported by $200,000 in grants from Merck Animal Health and individual donations. The grant program does not require clinics to be enrolled or to raise funds, according to the press release.
Instead, the new program allows for direct reimbursement to veterinarians for care of animals whose owners are in financial need—including reimbursement for medicine and necessary veterinary care.
To be eligible for reimbursement, applicants must be a current AVMA member, and the request for reimbursement must benefit those experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic or domestic violence. A reimbursement cap of $500 for grant requests related to COVID-19 has been set in anticipation of high demand and to provide assistance for as many animals as possible with the funds available. No cap is currently in place for requests related to domestic violence. Funding for the grants is administered by the AVMF.
The new grant program is designed to build on the success of the AVMF Veterinary Care Charitable Fund, which offers clinics the opportunity to raise funds to provide charitable care within the clinic. The VCCF program paid for the care of more than 1,000 animals in 2020. Practices enrolled in the VCCF program are eligible to apply for funding through the new grant program.