Unemployed pet owners struggle to make ends meet

COVID-19 has devastated Florida’s tourism-centric economy and unemployment is soaring. People are making heart-wrenching choices about their pets. “What happens if I get sick?” “Who will care for my pet(s)?” “Should I put off life-saving animal surgery to save money?” SPCA Tampa Bay is the only non-profit, animal welfare agency that runs a For-All (open admission) animal shelter and public veterinary center in Pinellas County. And requests for our Caldwell Keeping Families Together Fund have increased by at least 30%.

Our full service veterinary center, SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center (SPVC) normally serves an average of 45 clients daily, providing everything from wellness to complex, life-saving emergency surgeries. In 2019, we provided veterinary care to 14,881 owed pets. We offer discounted services to low-income clients who otherwise would have to euthanize a sick pet. Currently we are NOT doing wellness exams or non-emergency, elective spay/neuter surgeries. Because of COVID and social distancing practices, we offer curbside drop off and pick up of animals. Veterinarians confer with clients on the phone about their pets.

In keeping with our mission to transform the lives of animals, we wanted to provide a path for those pet owners who find themselves in the precarious situation of not being able to afford treatment for their animals and are considering the heartbreaking possibility of pet surrender or humane euthanasia. This led us to create the Keeping Families Together Fund at our Veterinary Center.

Initially funded with a generous donation from the Caldwell family, the intent of this fund is to support families who cannot afford their pet’s veterinary care. Subsequent donations to this fund from the Caldwell family, foundations and SPCA donors are restricted to financial assistance for the Veterinary Center’s low-income clients.

When a client indicates they cannot afford care and are not eligible for other payment methods, they become eligible for the Caldwell Keeping Families Together Fund. Clients must provide proof of income to qualify. Most SPVC services such as exams, procedures, surgeries and most vaccines qualify for CKFTF. Medications (including heartworm and flea products and rabies vaccines), retail goods and food do NOT qualify. Our food pantry in Largo provides support for pet food.

Your gift today could be the gift of life for a sick or injured pet. Won’t you please give now?


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