When you're experiencing financial hardship, taking care of your dog's health and daily expenses can be difficult. It's not unusual for an owner to be forced to surrender a beloved dog to a shelter or euthanasia because of financial issues. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the annual cost of taking reasonable care of a dog can reach over $1,000. Premium care can cost many thousands more. Fortunately, there are financial assistance programs that exist to help cover a dog's medical and nutritional expenses.
Veterinary Care Assistance
Several organizations offer financial assistance to pay for veterinary medical expenses for your dog if you can prove you lack the income to pay for them. The Brown Dog Foundation provides grants for life-saving procedures and medication for your dog. The organization works with certain veterinarians and may refer you to a specific vet for your dog's care. The Pet Fund offers financial assistance to pay for your dog's nonemergency medical procedures and care; there is typically a waiting period for this service. Some organizations that help families in need of veterinary assistance for their pets are state-specific, such as the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association Companion Animal Foundation. You must prove financial need through tax returns, recent bank statements or proof of welfare assistance. Typically funds are disbursed directly to the veterinarian treating your pet, not to you.
While some organizations offer financial assistance for veterinary care, some provide assistance with food and medications for your dog. The Petco Foundation's "We Are Family Too" program donates food to local animal rescue groups that you can contact for assistance. These groups offer dry and canned dog food to help needy families care for their pets. Local organizations such as the Save Our Pets Food Bank in Atlanta, Georgia, allow low-income applicants to apply for a one-month supply of food for up to four dogs, delivered to their homes. The national organization Rescue Bank works with local shelters and pet food banks around the country to donate dog food to needy families. Inquire with your local animal shelter or rescue group to find out whether they provide food bank services for your community.
Disease- or Breed-Specific Assistance
Some organizations provide financial assistance for certain dog breeds or dogs suffering from specific illnesses. The Magic Bullet Fund pays for cancer-specific treatments including radiation, chemotherapy and surgical removal of tumors if these treatments have more than a 50 percent chance of extending your dog's life by one year or more. The Muffin Pet Diabetes Support Group offers funding for low-income owners of dogs suffering from diabetes. The group provides grants to cover the costs of treatment for the disease, including medications and supplies to treat the condition; funds are paid directly to the veterinary clinic treating your dog. Labrador Life Line is an organization that provides financial aid for the medical care of Labrador retrievers. The group pays 75 percent of the dog's medical expenses up to $500.
Other Options and Considerations
Raise money yourself with the help of an online fund-raising website such as GiveForward. This website, free to use, allows you to build a webpage to request funds for your dog's care and medical costs. Advertise the link to the page through social media websites or a blog. Consider offering to help in your local veterinarian's office, taking care of animals or doing office work, in exchange for veterinary care for your dog. Ask your local animal rescue or shelter if it provides assistance to pet owners in need of financial assistance or provides low-cost services such as spaying and neutering. Financial assistance provided by nonprofit organizations will not reimburse you for expenses already paid out to your veterinarian; these funds are generally set up to help those who do not have the money to pay these expenses at all.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Having Trouble Affording Your Pet?
- Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association Companion Animal Foundation: About CAF
- Brown Dog Foundation: Approval Process
- Petco Foundation: Food Bank Program
- Rescue Bank: Recipient Guidelines
- The Magic Bullet Fund: Application Process
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Pet Care Costs
- Dog image by yellowj from Fotolia.com