Last week I was half-watching TV while surfing the net, and saw a commercial promoting a charitable venture in Rhode Island that helps lower-income people pay vet’s bills. I was a little surprised because let’s face it, that’s not the sort of thing you see on TV very often. I jotted down the name of the organization and looked them up on the net. Sure enough, there it was: The RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation. Launched in 2004, the Foundation’s mission is to provide funds to the state’s participating veterinary practitioners for compassionate care of pets whose owners are unable to pay. I looked around the web site for awhile, thinking about what a great idea this is, and wondering what other resources are available to folks who love their pets but can’t afford to care for them when they are injured or sick.
Now, I’ve heard all the arguments about why the poor should not own pets, but whether you think this is so or not, the reality is that poor people do own pets. Saying that they shouldn’t doesn’t help those pets one little bit. This article is about finding the means to service animals in crisis, and not about whether their owners deserve to be helped. For me, it isn’t even a debatable question. I decided to do some research to find out just how extensive a safety net is available to low-income pets.