3 minute read

Pet Welfare: Healthy Pets = Happy People

Through the Veterinary Care Voucher program, One Health Organization
provides financial assistance that benefits pet welfare 

Because of the special bonds humans have formed with companion animals, pet welfare is tied to our welfare. 

But sometimes life throws up barriers and challenges, and pet parents have trouble keeping up with costs, including veterinary care. That’s why the Veterinary Care Voucher (Vouchers) program was established, to help pet parents in Northeast Ohio get the resources they need to keep their animals happy and healthy.

The program is simple, and its impact is profound. Vouchers allow pet owners to stay united with their pets, who provide comfort and demonstrable mental and physical health benefits to their people. They provide assistance for high‑quality vet healthcare, which enhances pet welfare.

A Growing Need

Veterinarians are trying to help.

In response to the growing need for veterinary assistance funds, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) launched a nonprofit program in 2015 that was designed to remove barriers to veterinary care for low‑income pet owners. The organization points to a study from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that found that 46 percent of survey respondents faced a situation where they had to give up a pet, and 26 percent said they couldn’t afford veterinary care. Pet owners who earned less than $50,000 a year said free or low‑cost veterinary care would benefit them the most. AVMF’s charitable fund has helped pet owners treat more than 1,200 companion animals.

Healthier Pets in Northeast Ohio 

Since 2014, One Health Organization has connected pet owners with 39 veterinary clinics that provided more than $181,000 in vet care for people using Vouchers. That’s a lot of healthier animals, and happier owners. 

Vouchers were used to cover nearly 1,000 vet visits for dogs and 500 visits for cats, providing 794 households with needed relief.

But there’s more help needed: Northeast Ohio has 112,000 households that would be eligible for Vouchers to help ease the financial burden and get the quality medical care they need for their pets. 

The only limitation on the number of households helped each year is the amount of funds raised.

How Does the Voucher Program Work?

To be eligible, household income must be no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty rate and people must live in one of seven counties in Northeast Ohio (Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit).

  • Any eligible pet parent can submit an application for Veterinary Care Vouchers for their cat or dog in need.
  • One Health Organization provides Vouchers worth up to $250 at local veterinary clinics.
  • The Voucher recipient calls one of our Veterinary Partners to make an appointment.
  • After the appointment, the Voucher recipient uses the Voucher to pay the bill. 
  • If the bill is more than the amount in vouchers, the Voucher recipient pays the difference.

Principles of Animal Welfare

When it comes to making financial decisions, most people prioritize their pets; they are family members too. Maintaining animals’ good health is part of AVMA’s animal welfare principles. Some of those principles apply to pet parents, including:  

  • Providing enough food, water, and health care for pets. 
  • Minimizing fear, pain, stress, and suffering for animals.
  • Treating animals with respect and dignity throughout their lives and, when necessary, providing a humane death.

Those principles come from leaders in the veterinary profession, who are looking out for the welfare of animals and the humans who care for them. 

Using Vouchers to Enhance Animal Welfare

When people apply for One Health Organization Veterinary Care Vouchers, we hear about their challenges and frustrations. But we also learn about the love they have for their pets, and their desire to provide a healthy home for the creatures that make them happier and healthier. What’s so satisfying about the Voucher program is its ability to benefit pet welfare and human welfare at the same time.

The most satisfying part of my job is when I approve the invoices paid by Veterinary Care Vouchers we receive after a veterinarian provides veterinary care. I know that those pets got the best care that their people could access with the help of generous and thoughtful donors. It truly is a team effort.

 

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