With tens of millions of people living at or below the poverty level in the United States, it’s no surprise that the pets in these households go without as well. Through The HSUS’ Pets for Life program, which we directly conduct in four major American cities, we focus on disadvantaged communities and work to provide pet-related services – food, sterilization, vaccination and more – to the pets of people who care as much about the well-being of their animals as anyone. The issue in these communities is access and resources – not the will to care for animals.
The Pets for Life team speaks with pet owners at a recent
community outreach event in Chicago.
But scale is an issue, and we want to bring this program from four to 40 and eventually to 400 communities. We got a great start last year toward our second-tier goal when we partnered with PetSmart Charities to mentor 10 local organizations across the country – supplying funding for spay/neuter, vaccinations, wellness events and other much-needed services, while our staff provided in-depth training on how to conduct effective community outreach and increase spay/neuter surgeries within under-served populations.
I’m excited to share our new video featuring first-year mentorship grant recipients sharing what Pets for Life has meant for their organizations and communities.
The first-year grants were a huge success – with more than 9,500 pets served and 4,200 spay/neuter surgeries provided in the 10 mentorship communities alone. The data we’ve collected shows the benefits of this innovative approach:
- 89 percent of the people had never contacted their local animal shelter or animal control.
- 70 percent of the pets had never seen a veterinarian before.
- 86 percent of the pets had not yet been spayed or neutered.
The HSUS is leading the way by demonstrating how to connect with this often-missed audience of pet owners. When trust is built and compassion is extended beyond the pet, spay/neuter comes more easily.
PetSmart Charities is generously offering a second year of funding to the first-year grant recipients and our PFL staff is continuing to guide these organizations in their community outreach work. We are also adding eight new PFL mentorship markets, five of which will receive grants from PetSmart Charities. In total, 19 communities will benefit from this ground-breaking program in 2014:
The Animal Foundation – Las Vegas, Nev.
Stray Rescue – St. Louis, Mo.
The goal of Pets for Life is to build more humane communities and create lasting and sustainable change in neighborhoods across the United States. In the first 10 months of 2013 alone, our four direct-care programs in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago served more than 9,800 pets and provided spay/neuter services for more than 7,100 dogs and cats. Combined with our mentorship programs in 19 other cities, we have begun to see a significant shift – creating transformational change by making pet care affordable and accessible for everyone and reaching pets before they reach our shelters.
In the coming months, we will be releasing a second edition of our Community Outreach Toolkit and A New Community Understanding data report, which will share the findings from data collected through Pets for Life over the last few years.
Watch the Pets for Life video here: