Pet Owners, Never Fear: There Are Places To Turn When You Cannot Afford Veterinary Care

When you have a pet, they may come a time when you will need to pay for veterinary medical bills. Depending on the medical emergency or condition, the bills can be astronomical. While pet insurance will help cover some of the costs there are times when a pet’s medical emergency or illness will exceed your resources leaving you facing an agonizing choice.

Here are some financial resources and options you can look to for financial help.

The RedRover Relief program will provide financial and emotional support to Good Samaritans, such as animal rescuers.  They help care for animals in life-threatening situations and can find resources to help victims of domestic violence escape abusive environments with their pets. They also have a program that assists pet owners in disaster relief, criminal seizures and hoarding cases.

The Pet Fund

The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit association that will provide financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need veterinary care.

The AAHA Foundation

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA),  is the benevolent arm of the AAHA Foundation offering AAHA-accredited veterinary practices who have pets in need. Accredited practices apply for assistance from the Fund for emergency and non-elective treatment of abandoned pets and pets whose owners are facing financial hardship.


This is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) charity helping people cover vet bills when they just can’t do it themselves. They also help with spay/neutering of animals.  They also have staff on hand to answer questions or get you the resources you need for any issues with your pet.

Harley’s Hope Foundation

Harley’s Hope offers  services for low-income pet owners, service animals, seniors and short-term foster care.

Brown Dog Foundation

This organization is dedicated to helping families who may be in a temporary financial crisis, and their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications.

Banfield Charitable Trust

The Banfield Charitable Trust has many programs including grants to help with veterinary care, food programs (like Meals on Wheels), homebound pet owners and owners in hospice care among others.

Shakespeare Animal Fund

This organization helps elderly, disabled and those whose income does not exceed the current federal poverty guidelines, obtain emergency pet care. The fund was founded after the loss of a beloved cocker spaniel “Shakespeare.” He died after a very costly illness, and in his memory, this fund was founded to help others who might face financial problems trying to save their pets.

The Onyx & Breezy Foundation

This is a privately run non-profit started in memory of the founder’s dogs. This foundation has helped animals in many ways: from spay/neuter programs, getting dogs on death row out of high-kill shelters, to providing emergency medical care to animals whose owners have fallen on hard times.

Handicapped Pets Foundation

The Handicapped Pets Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to the health and well-being of elderly, disabled, and injured pets. They donate mobility equipment to pets in need.

Credit Cards for Veterinary Care

Since many veterinary hospitals will not take payment plans,  these specialized cards may be a solution if you are not able to afford the entire cost of treatment all at once. Your veterinarian must offer this service, in order for you to use. Check with your veterinarian to see which cards are accepted.

  • Care Credit
  • Citi Health Card

Dog-Breed Specific Support

Many rescue groups and associations support specific dog breeds. Reach out to your local breed clubs for information on local, state and national groups involved in dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs. Examples include CorgiAid, Special Needs Dobermans, LabMed, and Pit Bull Rescue Central.

Disease Specific Support

There are groups that can help with specific canine diseases such as: Canine Cancer Awareness, The Reidel & Cody Fund, The Magic Bullet Fund, Helping Harley Fund, and Muffin Diabetes Fund, The Big Hearts Fund.

Working Dogs / Service Dog Support

There are special programs for veterinary care assistance for working dogs and service animals. Check with The Assistance Dogs Special Allowance Program and The Gandalf Fund.

Crowdsource Funding

You can try raising your own funds through fundraising platforms such as GiveForward,, GoFundMe. These programs let you create a personal fundraising page to raise funds for your pet’s medical care. They do charge a small percentage of funds raised.

Check in your area for other local groups and rescues that may be able to help or point you in the right direction for assistance. Many will know of low-cost vet clinics and possible solutions for fundraising.

Please note that the groups listed above are primarily for helping families with emergency medical situations. If you are looking for low cost-spay and neuter and vaccinations, call your local animal control or rescue organizations for information. You may also check with veterinary schools in your city or veterinary associations such as The American Veterinary Medical Association.

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