Reducing the cost of veterinary care

Many people unable to afford veterinary care are forced to give up their companions. Here is one organization that can help.

Lulu is a boxer mix with severe ligament damage. Her family loves her, but couldn’t afford $2,000 for the stem cell therapy needed to treat her. A non-profit organization called The Pet Fund came to Lulu’s rescue by helping pay for the procedure.

You’ve probably dealt with a few medical issues in your own dog, so you know how expensive veterinary care has become. “For many people, especially in today’s economy, these costs are increasingly beyond their reach, forcing them to surrender loved and cherished companions to shelters, or worse, have them euthanized,” says Karen Leslie, The Pet Fund’s executive director. This can be devastating, especially to seniors or the disabled, who often rely on their animals to alleviate loneliness and help them keep their independence. Luckily, The Pet Fund, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, can help people pay for veterinary care when they can’t carry the bills themselves, so they can keep their best friends.

“We receive upwards of 200 calls daily, all from people needing assistance with the cost of veterinary care,” says Karen. The Pet Fund helps people cover medical costs that go beyond the normal expenses of routine checkups, spay and neuter ops, food, and other basics. This could include anything from surgery to cancer treatment to stem cell therapy, all of which can run into thousands of dollars, depending on the situation. It’s important to note that the organization has a wait list for funds, so it cannot help with emergency situations requiring immediate treatment.

After being approved for funding by the organization (this must be done by phone), applicants are required to submit proof of income, a written copy of an estimate for the animal’s treatment from their veterinarian, and their vet’s name, address and medical license number. Funds are not sent to individuals, but to the treating veterinarian.

Along with monetary assistance, The Pet Fund also educates people about preventative care and financial services in an effort to help them keep their animals healthy and avoid crises by planning for future veterinary expenses.

The organization is all volunteer-run, and relies on donations. “We aim to provide help for as many companion animals as possible who are at risk of being separated from their families due to financial constraints,” says Karen. “Our ultimate goal is to work towards a future in which no animal is denied veterinary care because of cost.”


Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.