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B.C. animal welfare charity facing ‘alarming’ demand for subsidized veterinary care

An animal welfare charity in Maple Ridge, B.C. is raising concerns about an “alarming” increase in demand for its services. Up to 200 calls for help are going unanswered each month.

The Paws for Hope Foundation provides crisis foster care and financial support for veterinary care for low-income clients. The grant program subsidizes 80 per cent of the veterinary bill for 140 families who are currently enrolled.

It can’t take on any more clients due to budgetary constraints, but executive director Kathy Powelson said monthly requests for help have doubled.

“We are seeing that the struggles people are experiencing in their families because of the increased cost of living are filtering down to their pets,” she told Global News. “So families that typically didn’t have trouble paying for vet bills – even pet food and supplies – are struggling.”

Demand for support from animal shelters increased in tandem, she added, with costs and the lack of pet-friendly housing being identified as the top reasons for pet surrenders.

Right now, Paws for Hope has 23 community partners and veterinary clinics. It’s searching for more to help cope with the demand for subsidized animal care.

The charity supports about 50 veterinary procedures a month, but Powelson said veterinary costs having increased post-pandemic and as a result of inflation.

“We can only help in communities where we have a vet partner,” she explained. “When we’re looking at the health of our community, when people struggle, their pets will struggle as well. And as a caring society, we have an obligation to ensure that pets and their people are cared for.”

Last month, Powelson said Paws for Hope established a one-time emergency fund to support people and pets in need, given that it can’t enroll any more clients in its subsidy program the moment.

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