If you have a pet there may come a time when you will need to pay for veterinary medical bills, which, depending on the medical emergency or condition, can be astronomical. Pet insurance can certainly help cover some of the costs, if you have it. But there are times when a pet’s medical emergency or illness will exceed your resources. In cases such as these, pet owners may face an agonizing choice.
With this in mind, here are some financial resources and options you can look to for help.
The RedRover Relief program provides financial and emotional support to Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations and resources to help victims of domestic violence escape abusive environments with their pets. They also have a program that helps with disaster relief, criminal seizures and hoarding cases.
The Pet Fund
The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit association that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need veterinary care.
The AAHA Foundation
The benevolent arm of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the AAHA Foundation offers the AAHA Helping Pets Fund which works with AAHA-accredited veterinary practices to identify pets in need. Accredited practices may then apply for assistance from the Fund for emergency and non-elective treatment of abandoned pets and pets whose owners are facing financial hardship.
Harley’s Hope Foundation
Harley’s Hope offer several services for low-income pet owners, service animals, seniors and short-term foster care.
Brown Dog Foundation
This organization is dedicated to helping families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis at the same time their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications.
Shakespeare Animal Fund
They help elderly, disabled and those whose total income does not exceed the current federal poverty guidelines to obtain emergency pet care. The fund was founded after the loss of a beloved cocker spaniel “Shakespeare”. He died after a very costly illness, and in his memory this fund was founded to help others who might face financial problems while trying to save their pets.
The Onyx & Breezy Foundation
This is a privately run nonprofit started in memory of the founder’s dogs. This foundation has helped animals in a variety of ways: from spay/neuter programs, to getting dogs on death row out of high-kill shelters, to providing emergency medical care to animals whose owners have fallen on hard times.
Handicapped Pets Foundation
The Handicapped Pets foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to the health and well-being of elderly, disabled, and injured pets. They also donate mobility equipment to pets in need.
Credit Cards for Veterinary Care
Since many veterinary hospitals do not take payment plans, getting one of these specialized cards may be a solution if you are not able to afford the whole cost of treatment all at once. Your veterinarian must offer this service in order for you to use it so check with your veterinarian to see which cards are accepted.
Dog-Breed Specific Support
There are many rescue groups and associations that support specific dog breeds. Reach out to your local breed clubs for information on local, state and national groups involved in dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs. Examples include groups like CorgiAid, Special Needs Dobermans, LabMed, Pit Bull Rescue Central.
Disease Specific Support
There are groups that help with specific canine diseases such as Canine Cancer Awareness, The Reidel & Cody Fund, The Magic Bullet Fund, Helping Harley Fund, and Muffin Diabetes Fund.
Working Dogs / Service Dog Support
There are also special programs for veterinary care assistance for working dogs and service animals. As service and therapy dog programs may vary region to region, reach out to trusted organizations such as the ones recommended on AKC’s website or St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog in Canada to see if there is a government or private assistance program in your community.
Try raising your own funds through fundraising platforms like GiveForward, YouCaring.com, GoFundMe, that let you create a personal fundraising page to raise funds for your pet’s medical care. They charge a small percentage of funds raised.
There are many other local groups and rescues that may be able to help, or point you in the right direction for assistance. Many will know of low-cost vet clinics and possible solutions for funds.
Keep in mind the groups listed above are primarily for helping families with emergency medical situations. If you are looking for low cost-spay and neuter and vaccinations, try calling your local animal control or rescue organizations for information. Another good place to check for this information would be with veterinary schools in your city or checking with veterinary associations such as The American Veterinary Medical Association.
Note: we try to keep this article up-to-date, but some services, funding and policies may have changed since this article was first published.