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Paws for Hope Animal Foundation to Address Lack of Accessible Veterinary Care in Historically Excluded Community with Support from PetSmart Charities of Canada

Support for Indigenous communities identified as focus of the initial cohort for the trailblazing grant program

Maple Ridge BC – Paws for Hope Animal Foundation has received a grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada™ in the amount of $60,000 to address challenges in accessing veterinary care in Anacla, supporting Huu-ay-aht First Nation in partnership with CARE Network (based in Tofino, BC).

Rising costs combined with geographical and cultural barriers have left many communities out of the veterinary care system altogether. This grant program supports innovative and culturally relevant veterinary programs focused on Indigenous communities, which have been historically excluded from veterinary care.

Early in 2023, PetSmart Charities of Canada, the top funder of animal welfare in the country, announced an $18 million commitment over the next five years toward improving access to veterinary care. The “Incubator” grant program, focused on changing how to support veterinary care in historically excluded Indigenous communities, is a significant pillar of that commitment.

“Access to veterinary care is the number one animal welfare issue impacting companion animals in our country,” states Kathy Powelson, founder and executive director of Paws for Hope. “This, a first of its kind funding opportunity, enables us to work in partnership with both the community and a local animal welfare organization (CARE). They bring a decade of experience working with remote communities to build a sustainable, replicable solution to inadequate access to veterinary care in a culturally relevant way.”

While nearly 60% of Canadian households include pets, access to basic veterinary services has not kept pace. This is particularly felt in Indigenous communities that have additional barriers beyond cost, including cultural barriers and a lack of veterinary services in the vicinity. In Indigenous regions, pets play important roles in their communities, but accessing resources to keep animals healthy can be challenging. With reconciliation considerations integrated into the approach, grantees will build relationships and assess specific needs before helping to design long-term veterinary services. This ensures that communities that have been left out are deliberately included in deciding how and when they will access the healthcare they need for their pets.

“Nearly 1 in 5 Canadians struggle to access even basic preventative care such as spay/neuter procedures, vaccinations and annual exams,” said Kate Atema, director of community grants & initiatives at PetSmart Charities of Canada. “While this issue affects families in nearly every community, those who have been historically excluded from human social services are most in need of pet services. We’re proud to support an innovative approach that meets the unique needs identified by those with lived experiences that have struggled to gain access to veterinary care themselves.”

Huu-ay-aht citizens living on Anacla can find out more about the project and how they can access support by contacting James Rogers at [email protected].

About Paws for Hope Animal Foundation

Paws for Hope Animal Foundation is a provincial animal welfare charity whose mission is to keep pets and people together, ensure BC pets survive and thrive, and support positive change in the BC animal welfare sector.

About CARE Network

CARE has been partnering with rural and remote communities for over ten years to innovate animal care and controls to keep all members of these communities safe and healthy, whether they have two legs or four. Connect with us to join a network of compassion and care.

About PetSmart Charities of Canada™

PetSmart Charities of Canada is committed to making the world a better place for pets and all who love them. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart ® stores across the country, PetSmart Charities of Canada helps thousands of pets connect with loving families each year. PetSmart Charities of Canada also provides grant funding to support organizations that advocate and care for the well-being of all pets and their families. Our grants and efforts connect pets with loving homes through adoption, improve access to affordable veterinary care and support families in times of crisis with access to food, shelter, and emergency relief. Each year, thousands of generous supporters help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities of Canada directly at, while shopping at, and by using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities of Canada efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in Canada, granting more than $25 million since its inception in 1999. Independent from PetSmart LLC, PetSmart Charities of Canada is a registered Canadian charity. To learn more visit

Media Contact:
24-Hour PetSmart Charities Media Line: 623-587-2177

Paws for Hope Animal Foundation
Kathy Powelson
[email protected]

CARE Network
James Rodgers
[email protected]

Huu-ay-aht First Nation
Amanda-Lee Çunningham
[email protected]

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