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Pets have become an integral part of our families with over 80% of pet owners reporting that they consider their pets to be a member of their family. An estimated 29 million dogs and cats live in families that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. There are also middle-class families that live paycheck to paycheck, with limited funds for veterinary care. These families deserve the companionship of pets to enjoy the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that come from this human-animal bond.

Through a grant from Maddie’s Fund®, the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition (AVCC) commissioned a national population study to better understand the barriers to veterinary care experienced by pet owners across the socioeconomic spectrum. The study also sought to understand the knowledge, attitudes, and practices veterinarians have regarding access to veterinary care.

The overwhelming barrier for all groups of pet owners and types of care is financial. Findings confirm that veterinary service providers recognize the severity of the problem and feel a commitment to explore ways to address it. Almost all veterinary service provider respondents agreed that all pets deserve some level of veterinary care and that not being able to obtain veterinary care impacts the owner’s mental and emotional health.

Lack of access to veterinary care is a complex societal problem with many causes. This report will assist in understanding these complex and interrelated issues and guide veterinary service providers, social service and public health professionals, animal welfare advocates, and policymakers in the development of solutions.

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