by Photo courtesy of the San Diego Humane Society

Inaccessibility to care is an issue that extends to the smallest and furriest members of our communities. 

According to the National Pet Owners Survey, about 70 percent of homes in the United States include pets, but nearly 50 million pets cannot access the most basic veterinary care. The San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) said this could be due to cost and other barriers. 

“Pets in under-resourced communities often do not receive essential veterinary services such as vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, dental or other medical care," San Diego Humane Society spokeswoman Nina Thompson said. 

In response to the inaccessibility to veterinary care faced by many households, PetSmart Charities granted $100,000 to the San Diego Humane Society in hopes of impacting 10,000 pets and pet parents through its Community Veterinary Services program. 

The program aims to provide pet families with low-cost vaccines, spray/neuter services, and a voucher program that pet owners can redeem at partner veterinary clinics to supplement the cost of veterinary care when their pets are sick or injured.

According to the organization, the launch of mobile preventative care clinics this summer will help bring veterinary services directly into the communities that need them most. The program also offers clinics twice per week at the SDHS’ San Diego Campus. 

“While the need for veterinary care in our community is great, there is a significant gap between the number of accessible, low-cost service providers and the human population of San Diego County — especially in underserved areas,” said San Diego Humane Society Director of Community Veterinary Services Geraldine D’Silva. “As a result, countless pet owners face barriers that make it virtually impossible for them to access veterinary care. Our Community Veterinary Services program addresses this challenge head-on by removing the financial and logistical barriers low-income pet owners face in accessing medical care for their animals.”

The organization hired Dr. Francine Deutsch and Dr. Carole Leland for the Community Services Veterinarian position,  a registered veterinary technician, and two veterinary assistants. They will be the organization's first medical team to focus exclusively on providing services to pets owned by members of the community.

The team will provide care on the organization's four campuses. They will also bring services to communities in need through mobile preventative care clinics. 

“Marginalized communities, especially, are experiencing a crisis with access to veterinary care,” said Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities. “A recent study found that 40% of low-income people surrendering their pets cited affordable veterinary care as a critical factor.” 

To learn about San Diego Humane Society’s Community Veterinary Services, visit<>.

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