Many pet owners struggle to afford the costs of animal care includingveterinary bills. These struggles have been compounded in many places as morepeople face unemployment and hardship associated with the ongoing COVID-19pandemic. Free and low-cost community veterinary services aim to assiststruggling pet owners. These community veterinary services can have animalwelfare benefits including improved care for individual animals and areduction in animal over-population, if pet desexing services are provided.

This study investigated client satisfaction with two community veterinaryservices in North Carolina in the United States. Clients at the AshevilleHumane Society (AHS) Affordable Pet Care Clinic (APCC) (n = 64) and Mobile VetClinic (MVC) (n= 33) were surveyed 2017 to 2020. The majority of clients wereunemployed and had an annual household income of <$US 20, 000. The clinicswere staffed by small veterinary teams led by one veterinarian. Services fordogs and cats included free and low-cost preventative care (e.g.vaccinations), wellness exams and care for injuries and illness.

Over half (54.5%) of respondents reported that their pet had never receivedveterinary care before. Barriers to accessing veterinary care includedpersonal finances and accessibility/transport issues. The majority of clientsrated the AHS community veterinary services positively. For example, over 80%of respondents rated ‘discussion about treatment options and costs’ as ‘good’,over 85% trusted the veterinary team and over 90% felt that the veterinarianrespected their culture/beliefs and the role their pet played in their lives.These findings highlight the value of accessibility, communication, culturalcompetence and empathy in the provision of free and low-cost communityveterinary services.

Kogan LR, Accornero VH, Gleb E et al (2021) Community veterinary medicineprograms: pet owners’ perceptions and experiences. Frontiers in VeterinaryScience 8, 678595

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