What if you could help keep pets out of the shelter and with their families by subsidizing veterinary care costs? That’s exactly what Colorado’s Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) had in mind when they applied for an Innovation Grant earlier this year.
“Their Innovation Grant was to help people surrendering their animals for medical reasons,” explained Kelly Clardy, Maddie’s Fund® Grants Specialist. “When someone surrenders an animal due to medical costs, HSPPR is providing the medical care needed, and then returning the animal to its owner. If the owner can pay anything towards the medical care, they will. If not, it was subsidized by the grant.”
As an open admission shelter with an on-site veterinary clinic and surgery center accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, HSPPR does not refuse an animal for any reason, and has the ability to provide the necessary veterinary services for sick and injured animals prior to being adopted.
“When an animal is sick or injured and their owner cannot afford the necessary veterinary services, the owner may make the heartbreaking decision to surrender their pet to ensure proper treatment and care,” said Tiffany Roberts, grants and corporate giving manager for HSPPR. “ Through conversation with owners surrendering due to a medical need, we found they may be willing and able to afford a portion of the cost if they cannot afford the full cost of treatment and care.”
Recognizing the important bond between pets and their people, HSPPR began to explore returning treated and rehabilitated animals to their families. And, since they would be providing the necessary veterinary services for the animal in either situation – returning to the original family or adopting into a new family – HSPPR desired to find a way to preserve the established bond between the animal and the original family.
The grant subsidized veterinary care for an initial 12 animals, treating them at the HSPPR veterinary clinic and returning them to their owners. “These medical cases were used as the basis for measuring and assessing the success and sustainability of the program,” said Roberts.
The result? Overwhelmingly positive!
“Being able to demonstrate our medical safety net program is feasible, sustainable, and successful for pets and people, we have been able to secure an additional $100,000 in grant funding for our medical outreach program! Based on our average subsidized cost of $400 per medical case — $600 average total cost, less $200 average contribution by owner — this additional grant funding will allow us to provide 250 more animals with lifesaving veterinary care and keep them in their loving homes.”
Thinking about starting a similar program in your own community? HSPPR advises starting by identifying parameters for program participation, including financial need, human-animal bond, owner ability and willingness to support post-care needs, good prognosis for animal, etc.
“Start with a small, internal program and work within your current capacity to provide medical treatment and care to prevent overwhelming resources, including staff. Determine average cost of medical treatment and average contribution owners can afford through this pilot program.” They also suggest outlining and communicating requirements to participate in the program and what participants can (and cannot) expect from it.
If you need to see and feel the impact for yourself, watch David and Maddie’s story. Theirs is just one example of the impact this program has had on people and their pets.
“It captures the heart of this program and illustrates our mission of a compassionate community where animals and people are cared for and valued,” said Roberts. You can watch their short video here.