By Kitty Block
Through a local Pets for Life partner in Idaho, Better Together Animal Alliance, Janis received free veterinary care and grooming for her dogs Baby and Freeda. Better Together Animal Alliance
The joy, unconditional love, and health benefits of the human-animal bond are priceless, but the sad reality is that millions of pets in the US live in poverty with their families. Rising inflation and systemic poverty have left many families struggling to access essential care and supplies for their pets.
More than 20 million pets live with their owners in poverty in the US. To put it in perspective, this number is three times the number of pets entering shelters each year. Also, 70% of these pets have never seen a vet. As a result, people are often forced to choose between meeting their own needs and those of their pets. Too often, they lack access to veterinary care, pet-friendly housing, and other vital resources like pet food and supplies. We’ve heard firsthand from countless families who would rather skip a meal than be unable to care for their pets. No one should be in this position.
As an organization dedicated to animal welfare, we cannot ignore this national crisis. A key part of our work is achieving equity in access to pet care for underserved communities. These efforts are long overdue and necessary to recognize the human in “human”. Through our Pets for Life and Rural Area Veterinary Services programs, we are creating a world where everyone can experience the unconditional love and benefits of a companion animal, regardless of race, ethnicity, geography, or socioeconomic status.
For example, Janis and her dog, Freeda, a poodle mix. Janis first received hospice and end-of-life veterinary care for her older Chihuahua, Baby, through a local Pets for Life partner in Idaho, Better Together Animal Alliance. Losing Baby was hard, but Janis found solace in having Freeda. However, the preparation necessary for Freeda to stay healthy was financially out of her reach. Having access to free veterinary care and grooming has meant everything to Janis. Janis shared: “Sometimes it takes a community. I am so thankful for Pets for Life. I do not know what I would be without them”.
I am proud of this work and the commitment of everyone involved in running these programs. As we continue to address the realities of pets in poverty in the US, we invite you to join us in launching our more than a pet campaign with the help of five partners: wdm, little ones, Motel 6, Ollie and TQL. The campaign aims to raise awareness and provide solutions to increase access to care and keep families and their pets together, happy and healthy. Grammy Award Winning Musician Mya she also supports the campaign, along with her dogs, Tango, Jemma and Jax, and her cat, Journey.
We invite everyone to show their support for this campaign. sharing why her companion animals are #MoreThanAPet. Campaign partner Smalls is donating a plate of food for every photo shared, up to $1 million, to pets and their families in need.
People living with their pets under difficult circumstances are a testament to the power, courage, and resilience of the human-animal bond. Together, we can build a society where families living in poverty with their pets are seen, valued, and have equal access to resources.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.