Have you ever heard of a pet service desert? It’s a community where services for pets are not available or affordable. Families in pet service deserts live in low-income areas. But the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) Pets For Life (PFL) program is working to close the gap in pet wellness services.
Poverty creates barriers in access to health care, quality food and veterinary care. One source noted and that the “extreme lack of access to pet resources is a national crisis” that is often ignored.
What do we know about pet service deserts?
- About 20 million pets live in low-income areas in the US.
- Around 69% of these pets never receive veterinary care.
- Nearly 88% of these pets are not spayed or neutered.
You might think millions of low-income families don’t love their pets. But you’re wrong. Limited access to pet resources and information does not make you a bad pet parent: It just means you need help.
An interesting PFL infographic shows the impact of poverty on a community. You can see the direct harm to pet parents and their pets: Lack of pet services, limited choices, and institutional discrimination on pets and people.
You know that people love their pets, no matter where they live.
My recent Daily Dog Diary was a reminder to me. I saw a homeless man playing a guitar with a dog draped over his shoulders. I left him a tip and said, “Take care of your friend there!” He said, “She always comes before me!”
The PFL program works to change the face of pet services in low-income communities. The goal is to collect data from pet parents using a direct approach:
- Building trust and relationship with pet parents.
- Door-to-door outreach.
- Free pet care resources.
- Pet services and information.
Along with love and a good home, access to information is important for any pet parent. Added benefits for pet parents in low-income communities is training and mentorship from the PFL team.
The PFL team offers a unique approach to low income areas:
- To support and guide local organizations and veterinary communities around the country. These groups need tools and knowledge to help pet owners through community outreach programs.
- To practice policy and enforcement reform. PFL hopes to change practices in law enforcement and animal control to support community-based engagement.
- To talk to pet parents and find out what they need. It’s a smarter solution than seizing pets and taking them away from their homes.
Pet parents are not bad people just because they can’t afford quality pet care.
The PFL philosophy is “that a love for pets transcends socioeconomic boundaries, and no one should be denied the opportunity to experience the benefits and joy that comes from the human-animal bond“.
Our pet parent community is far and wide. While we all can’t give our pets weekly spas and campground vacations, we can give them love. I’m happy to share this story about helping people in need!
All animals lovers are part of Dr. Pet Mom’s pet parenting community.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Pet Mom
“We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do.”