Every day veterinarians across Rhode Island see pet owners who are elderly, disabled, or on a fixed income. Often, these individuals and families are faced with extremely difficult, even unbearable decisions regarding the future of their pets because they lack the ability to pay for veterinary care. Veterinarians give away thousands of dollars in free and reduced price care each year, but still cannot meet the demand for services.
The mission of the RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation (CAF) is to ensure that all pets have access to compassionate veterinary care. The CAF provides qualified, low-income owners with financial assistance to reduce the cost of their pets’ wellness visits and treatment for illness and injury. Established in 2004, the CAF is the first veterinary-based assistance program in the nation.
Since the program’s inception, CAF has dispersed funding via grants recommended by veterinary practices that are members of the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association (RIVMA). Each RIVMA member practice receives an annual CAF allocation based on the number of veterinarians on staff, dollars that are available for the practice to use in assisting low-income clients. This system works well and the number of pets receiving treatment has increased each year.
In May 2013, the CAF launched a pilot voucher program as an alternative means of providing low-income pet owners with access to veterinary care. Since that time, the CAF has issued more than 2,500 voucher certificates. Of those, approximately 50% were redeemed at participating veterinary practices.
In 2021, the organization continued to experience unprecedented demand and distributed more than $114,000 throughout the state to aid in the treatment of hundreds of pets of low-income owners.
The CAF is proud to be a founding partner, along with the RISPCA, of Pets In Need Veterinary Clinic in East Providence. This facility provides low-cost veterinary care to the pets of families who have demonstrated financial need and is currently operated by The Potter League.