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Q: Are there any organizations that subsidize preventative care such as vaccinations for low-income households?

Original Question: "Hi doctors, we have Mo who is an 11-year-old Tabby, Rupert a 7-year-old Golden Retriever and Dumbledore a 5-year-old Tabby. Five years ago I lost my job and my wife went into kidney failure within four months of each other. We have been able to give our pets a loving home and food but we have not been able to vaccinate them in about four years. We also have not been able to afford flea meds either. About two years ago Mo got out and went on a nine-day adventure. He picked up fleas while he was out and upon his return he chewed his tail to the bone. Our vet offered to submit the cost of his tail amputation to the Farley Society but first we had to pay for the office visit to evaluate him and to get an estimate for the amputation. Luckily I was able to scrape enough money together for this and the $200 that the Farley Foundation didn’t cover of the $1200 surgery. (Mo is fine now with his shortened tail BTW.) Are there any foundations out there that help with things like the cost of shots and flea meds? Right now I don’t even have enough to cover an examination (I’ve been trying to get $8 to last until the end of the month since last week) so my vet won't even see us. If you have any suggestions I would be grateful. Thanks." - Ted


Vet Certified Answer | Answered: June 10, 2017

Hi Ted,

Thanks for your question. I applaud your dedication to your animals despite some obviously very trying family and financial circumstances. I know it can be a challenge to afford veterinary care sometimes. This is something veterinary staff are faced with on a regular basis. Pets enrich our lives so much, yet they do also present a financial burden.

You have already mentioned the Farley Foundation, which is an organization associated with the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA). This organization provides funding for emergency treatment and procedures for pets owned by low-income individuals. While certainly very appreciated and helpful, the Farley Foundation is not an option for preventative care (vaccinations, parasite prevention) for families with a lower income.

There are several other options to consider. Larger cities, including Toronto, offer low-cost vaccination and spay-neuter services. Toronto Animal Services and the Toronto Humane Society both provide these services. The cost is significantly less than a typical primary care veterinary clinic. There may be some restrictions and waiting lists, but many low-income pet owners find these services a reasonable alternative to a primary care veterinary clinics for preventative vaccinations and spay-neuter. Perhaps you can contact your local humane society or OSPCA and see if they might offer vaccination clinics or refer you to another organization locally.

There is another group I would like to mention here. It is called Community Veterinary Outreach, and originally was started by an Ottawa veterinarian, but has now spread across Ontario. This group holds vaccination/preventative care clinics for marginally-housed pet owners. Veterinarians, technicians, students, public health workers and community outreach staff volunteer their time to provide preventative care for these pets.  I have personally volunteered at a number of these clinics. It is fantastic to see everyone come together to help those in need with their furry family. These clinics are not open to the public and require referral from a community partner, with a focus on homeless, marginally-housed and street-involved individuals. So, while this may not be the right option for you, I wanted to mention it in case anyone out there may benefit.

Again, I sincerely appreciate your commitment to your pets, and know how difficult it can be to provide them with the preventative care they need. I hope this is somewhat helpful for you. 

Wishing you and your family all the best,

Dr. Kimberly Hester


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