Pet Financial Aid Resources for Low-Income Families
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Pets are an incredible source of love, affection, and joy for many people across the world. Many of us are taking advantage of the benefits of having a furry, feathery, or scaly friend to call our own. In fact, as of 2017, as many as 68 percent of US households have a pet.
Unfortunately, for all the great things about having a pet, there’s also inevitable fact that at some point they’ll get sick or injured and need medical treatment. For low income families especially, the question of how to pay for vet bills, especially unexpected emergencies, is one that may loom large.
What’s more, the cost of paying for veterinary care has been drastically increasing over the last several years. It’s estimated that US pet owners will spend an astounding $18 billion on vet bills in 2018 alone.
And, because these costs are rising so dramatically, many people are reporting an increase in what’s known as “economic euthanasia,” the tragic situation where a pet owner decides to put down their companion animal because they can’t afford necessary medical treatment.
Still, many nonprofits and charitable organizations have come to rescue, recognizing the fact that no one should have to face losing their companion animal because they cannot afford their medical care. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 40+ organizations that offer financial assistance for pet owners, financial aid for sick pets, and pet surgery assistance for low-income families.
National organizations offering pet financial assistance
These organizations offer financial assistance for pet owners across the country:
- American Humane. This organization offers the Second Chance Grant, a financial assistance program for animals who have been homeless and/or victims of abuse or neglect. These grants are intended to offset the cost of lifesaving medical care and training to ensure these animals can live happily and healthily.
- American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). Veterinarians who are licensed members of AVMF can receive financial assistance to offer low or no-cost services to folks who might otherwise have to surrender or put down their pets through their Veterinary Care Charitable Fund. They don’t offer grants directly to individuals, but you should check with your vet to see if they’re an AVMF member and are willing to make a request for funds to help your pet.
- Bialy’s Wellness Foundation. Bialy’s sponsors families and shelters caring for animals with special needs, particularly mobility issues including neurological or birth defects, paralysis, and amputation. They prioritize households with incomes under $50,000 and request that folks have made an effort to raise funds on their own in advance of requesting assistance. Apply for sponsorship here.
- Big Hearts Fund. Big Hearts works specifically to support pet owners whose dogs or cats have been diagnosed with heart disease. They currently have a freeze on new applications, but check back to see when they open them again.
- Dylan’s Hearts. This nonprofit provides financial assistance to veterinarians of low income families whose companion animals need emergency care. In order to qualify, you’ll need to meet the US WIC guidelines or have other proof of financial hardship such as a Medicaid Card, EBT Food Stamp Card, or proof that you receive welfare, disability, or unemployment assistance. They only cover urgent, life-threatening procedures for animals who have a good prognosis and can’t offer assistance for chronic conditions.
- FluffyRX. Many folks aren’t aware that you can fill some pet prescriptions at your local human pharmacy, but it’s true! Purchasing your pet’s medication at your local pharmacy will often be cheaper, plus when you sign up for the FluffyRX program, you’ll get a discount card that can save you extra money on your pet’s medications.
- Frankie’s Fund. Frankie’s Fund is another nonprofit that provides grants to families who cannot afford the emergency or specialty veterinary care their pet needs through their National Frankie’s Fund. They only provide funding to pets with a good prognosis and you’ll be responsible for any initial assessments and diagnostics. However, if you’re selected, you may receive up to $500 and Frankie’s Friends will request a 25% discount from your veterinarian. If you’re not selected through Frankie’s Funds or don’t receive enough to cover your costs, they also have the Hope Fund available at partnering Blue Pearl Veterinary Practices across the US.
- Friends And Vets Helping Pets. This nonprofit offers grants to individuals whose pets have curable medical issues including tumors, broken bones, diseases that can be treated with medication, and ambulatory issues. They aim to assist low-income folks, but anyone with a household income of up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines is eligible to submit an application.
- God’s Creatures Ministry. Through their Veterinary Care Fund, owners of pets with life-threatening medical issues can receive small grants of $50 to offset costs. Email founder Jan Fredericks at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Harley’s Hope Foundation. Harley’s Hope provides a few different services to pet owners in need. First is the Pet Assistance Fund, a grant for pets in need of emergency or major medical care or behavioral or specialty training. Pets must already have a diagnosis as well as a good prognosis to qualify. The second program is their Service Animal Aid Fund which offers assistance for service or assistance animals, with no restrictions on diagnosis, location, or types of services needed. Finally, is the Special Services Project, an additional grant program that provides funding for people with disabilities and elder folks, as well as animals with disabilities and older animals. These funds are available for folks whose pets may need special care outside of that covered by the Pet Assistance Fund.
- Hope Mending Hearts. This organization provides grants of $100 to $200 to pet owners whose animals need urgent medical care, have been diagnosed by a vet, and have a good prognosis. In order to qualify, you’ll need to prove financial need, make a concerted fundraising effort to cover the costs of care, and apply to see if you qualify for Care Credit, a payment program that helps you pay for your veterinary bills over time.
- Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF). ISF offers financial assistance for animals who need urgent medical care due to illness or injury sustained from abuse or neglect. They do offer grants to individuals, however you must have taken your animal in no more than three months prior to applying. Grants range up to $2,000 and are distributed based on available funds, medical urgency, and applicant eligibility.
- Joshua Lewis Animal Cancer Foundation. This nonprofit has donated over $100,000 to owners who can’t afford cancer treatments for their pets. They are currently not accepting applications, but check back with them to see when they re-open.
- Meals on Wheels. This international nonprofit that brings meals to low-income seniors also offers pet food to their clients in some locations. If you’re a Meals on Wheels member, ask if your local branch can provide food for your companion animal.
- Paws 4 A Cure. Paws 4 A Cure provides financial assistance of up to $500 for veterinary bills to anyone who can demonstrate financial hardship. They don’t cover routine care or monthly medications, but as long as you have a diagnosis from a veterinarian, they will provide funds for emergency medications, wheelchairs or other mobility devices, and care for a variety of illnesses. Apply here.
- Pet Assistance, Inc. This organization offers emergency assistance to longtime pet owners whose companion animals have been diagnosed with an urgent medical issue that they cannot afford. Unfortunately, they don’t provide assistance to young animals or recently acquired pets. Check here for information on how to apply.
- Pet Chow Pantry. Pet Chow Pantry provides food, treats, and sometimes cat litter to pet owners in challenging financial circumstances. You’ll need to provide proof of unemployment, disability or low-income status to qualify. If your application is accepted, they’ll send you a month’s supply of pet food for up to six consecutive months. Folks who need assistance for longer can have their application re-evaluated at the end of that period.
- Pets of the Homeless. Pets of the Homeless provides resources and support for homeless folks with companion animals. Check out their Get Help page to find listings of homeless shelters that allow pets, food banks that supply pet food, and free and low-cost veterinary care near you.
- R.A.C.E. for Ran. R.A.C.E. mainly provides transport for displaced animals to help them find new homes. However, they do also offer financial assistance directly to veterinarians for animals that require emergency care. Fill out their application here.
- Red Rover. Established in 1987, Red Rover has several different programs to support people and animals in crisis. Through their Red Rover Relief program, they offer grants to low-income individuals whose pets need urgent lifesaving care. They also offer assistance and housing grants for folks who are escaping domestic violence and wish to bring their pets. Grants are available for people throughout the US and are typically around $200.
- Reidel & Cody Fund. Reidel & Cody is dedicated to helping families who cannot afford treatment for their pets who have been diagnosed with cancer. Applicants must have proof of a diagnosis from a board-certified veterinary oncologist or a specialist working in integrative medicine, and all funds will be sent directly to your vet. Find out how to apply here.
- Rose’s Fund. This fund offers financial assistance to pet owners whose animals are dealing with urgent, life-threatening health concerns and whose prognosis after treatment is good. They only provide donations to folks who have exhausted all other options, so you’ll need to apply for Care Credit before trying Rose’s Fund. Fill out your application here.
- The Onyx and Breezy Foundation. Since 2004, The Onyx and Breezy Foundation has provided grants to folks who cannot afford urgent and emergency medical care for their pets. In order to qualify, you’ll need to present documentation of your financial situation, and you’ll need to show that you’ve been rejected for full or partial costs from Care Credit.
- The Pet Fund. The Pet Fund is a nonprofit that offers one-time assistance to pet owners whose companion animals need non-basic, non-urgent care. This means that most of their funds go to folks whose pets have heart disease, cancer, eye diseases, endocrine diseases, and chronic conditions. Email them at email@example.com to see if you qualify.
- Tripawds ASAP. Tripawds offers grants of up to $500 to low-income and economically disadvantaged pet owners whose dog or cat needs to undergo an amputation procedure. Grants are distributed based solely on financial need, so you will need to prove significant hardship in order to receive funding.
- Veterinary Care Foundation (VCF). Veterinarians who are members of the VCF can make requests for funding on behalf of their clients. Members accept donations to their personal fundraisers through the VCF website and can receive money from those fundraisers when they have a patient in need. Check with your vet to see if they’re a VCF member.
- Veterinary schools. Many veterinary schools offer free or low-cost services from students in training. Check here to find an accredited vet school near you and ask if they have discounted options for care.
- Violet’s Friends. A program by Oscar Newman Luxury Pet Couture, Violet’s Friends provides financial assistance to pet owners for surgeries, therapies, urgent or critical veterinary care, and mobility solutions that can’t otherwise afford. Funds are doled out based on urgency of need, and your pet will need to have a good prognosis to receive assistance.
Local resources for pet financial aid
One of your best bets when searching for financial assistance for your pet is to check with local organizations that might have a food pantry, low-cost or sliding scale vet services, or other options to help you afford care for your companion. These sites offer state-by-state listings of helpful resources:
- Humane Society’s National and State Resources For Pet Owners In Need
- Best Friends Animal Society Financial Aid For Pets
- Red Rover’s Financial Assistance Programs By State/Province
Financial assistance programs for cats
Unfortunately, there’s only one national program specifically dedicated to our feline friends. Check this one out if you need care for your cat:
Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program (FVEAP). FVEAP is currently only taking applications for their Kobi Fund which provides financial assistance to owners of pets who have Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (VAS). VAS is a group of cancers that are specifically caused by injected vaccines. You can apply for assistance here.
Financial aid programs for dogs
You can get help for your canine companion from these organizations:
- Brown Dog Foundation. Brown Dog helps owners of dogs with life-threatening medical conditions bridge the gap in order to be able to pay for their pet’s care. They work with the pet owner and the veterinary clinic to find the most affordable path for saving a pet, which may or may not include financial assistance.
- Magic Bullet Fund. Magic Bullet specifically provides funds to dog owners whose pets have been diagnosed with cancer. In order to qualify, you’ll need to present documentation of your financial situation or proof that you’re on SSI or disability, plus a diagnosis from your vet. Click here to apply.
- Pit Bulls Against Misinformation. Despite their name, this organization provides emergency medical assistance of up to $2,500 to owners of dogs of all different breeds. They prioritize folks who are on government assistance or who have been denied payment assistance through Care Credit. They may also be able to cover spay and neuter services as well as euthanasia costs. Contact them for information on how to apply.
- The Gift of Sunshine. This organization offers services particularly for assistance dogs and the folks who love them. The Gandalf Fund is a grant program that provides funding of up to a lifetime maximum of $2,500 for working or retired assistance dogs that need treatment for catastrophic illness or accidental injuries. The Hope Chest is a separate program that offers up to $2,000 to people with disabilities who need but cannot easily afford a trained assistance dog.
- The Mosby Foundation. The Mosby Foundation provides assistance for critical, non-routine medical care, cancer care, and spay and neuter services for low and moderate income families with dogs. Their applications are temporarily on hold, but should reopen soon.
Wheelchairs and mobility assistance for pets
If your pet has a disability and needs a device to help them get around, these organizations can offer assistance:
- Handicapped Pets Foundation. This organization donates wheelchairs to pets with injuries or disabilities. In order to ensure low-income folks are prioritized for these donations, you’ll need to provide proof that you receive benefits from a state or local assistance program such as Medicaid, disability, food stamps, welfare, or Section 8 housing.
- Rescued Rollers. Rescued Rollers refurbishes used wheelchairs for dogs and sends them to folks in need. Their describe their service as “last resort,” meaning that their target is folks who truly can’t afford to purchase a wheelchair for their pets. Request a wheelchair for your dog here.
- Wheeling Superheroes. Wheeling Superheroes is an entirely volunteer-run organization, with 100% of their donations going directly to provide wheelchairs to pets with mobility issues. They’ve donated 48 wheelchairs in 2018 alone. You can submit an application for a wheelchair for your pet here.
Crowdfunding and payment plans for pets
Of course, many of the grant and donation programs are completely swamped with requests, and it may just be a matter of luck if you’re able to get funding or not. That’s where crowdfunding and pet care payment plans can come in handy. If you do need to cover the complete costs of your pet’s medical care, consider these options:
- Care Credit. Care Credit is a healthcare credit card that can help you cover your pet’s financial expenses. You can use the card to pay for your pet’s procedures or routine medical care, then set up a payment plan so you don’t need to cover all of the costs up front. Some financial assistance programs will request that you apply for Care Credit first before applying for aid, so it’s a good idea to do some research and apply if you suspect you may need assistance.
- Plumfund. This general crowdfunding site is a great option for creating a campaign for your pet. They have options that are 100% free with low transaction fees, and they’ll even help you to raise money through offline payments at no cost to you. Check out their Animal Crowdfunding page for more details.
- Wag!. This popular dog walking app now offers a service to help you crowdfund emergency medical services of over $2,000 for your pet. If selected, Wag! will agree to donate a certain dollar amount for each walk that happens through the app on a given day while promoting your crowdfunding campaign. You’ll need to have a crowdfunding campaign already set up in order to qualify, but the funds raised may be sent directly to your veterinarian or your crowdfunding campaign.
- Scratchpay. Scratchpay allows you to find a payment plan for immediate pet care at thousands of clinics. You can apply on their site and click “Find A Payment Plan” to start your application. Once they accept a
payment option, your clinic receives a confirmation email.
- Waggle. Waggle is a crowdfunding platform specifically dedicated to ending economic euthanasia, meaning situations where owners are forced to put down their pets because they can’t afford medical care. In order to create a campaign, you’ll need to speak with your veterinarian to see if you’re a good candidate for the program. Then, they’ll help you get your crowdfunding page up and running and folks can donate to you to help offset your veterinary costs.
Your pet deserves to have a long, happy, and healthy life, regardless of your financial circumstances or your ability to pay what often wind up being exorbitant vet bills. Get in touch with any of these organizations to figure out ways to get financial aid for pets in need.
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