Veterinarians, technicians and care teams care deeply for the pets and people they serve—it’s often more a passion than a profession, the work they do is so deeply personal. “When we acquire hospitals, they often have a legacy of giving back, and we have to make sure we preserve and build on that,” says Kimberly West, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and President of VCA Charities, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping pets find and remain in loving homes. “Their passion underlies all the work we do at VCA.” 

Clearly, the drive to make a difference plays out at every level of the organization. Individual hospitals pitch in to support their communities when disaster strikes, and they promote VCA Charities to local pet owners who want to give back. VCA’s animal welfare team partners with shelters in local communities. VCA Charities provides grants that improve access to pet health care and support pet adoptions. And when all those groups align their efforts, magic happens. “We can do more together,” West says, “and it’s so exciting to see the difference these teams make. It’s a mission for our veterinary teams to do all they can for pets, and in turn, it’s a mission of VCA to support our teams.”

Fueling second chances
In the most recent example of the collaboration at work, VCA Charities partnered with Boop My Nose, a pet-focused Instagram channel with 1 million pet-loving followers. Here’s how it works: VCA Charities works with VCA’s shelter partners to identify highly adoptable dogs experiencing long shelter stays, @boopmynose features the dogs on its channel, and VCA Charities covers the adoption costs—giving these special pets the best possible odds for a second chance at a long, happy life with a family. (Check out the ridiculous cuteness at hashtag #AdoptABoop.) So far, every dog featured has been adopted! 

The program started with a partner shelter in Houston, and given the great outcomes, it’s already expanding. “Ladybird was the first adoptable pet posted under the partnership. After 10 months in a shelter, she was adopted within a week,” says Michelle Beach Harlow, the National Shelters Director at VCA Animal Hospitals. 

This is just one example of a program that supports the goal of helping pets find and remain in loving homes. VCA’s Healthy Start, another example, offers pets adopted from VCA shelter partners a free first exam and treatment for any minor illness up to a certain amount at their hometown VCA animal hospital for 14 days after their adoption.

VCA Charities also offers HOPE Funds, a grant program which provide financial assistance to pet owners who can demonstrate financial need if they’re unable to afford the full cost of life-saving medical care. “Given the struggles many families are facing today, we’re on track to spend 2 or 3 times more than projected to keep pets with their loving families this year,” says West. “The need is real.”

“Taking care of the future of veterinary medicine means a focus on building a healthy planet, putting people in a position to thrive, and investing in pet well-being. That’s how we support A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.”

Pitching in to mitigate disasters

Disaster relief efforts also show the valuable outcomes of collaboration across the VCA network. “Our hospital teams across the country raise money to support disaster relief funds on an ongoing basis,” says West. “And VCA supports them. In 2021, VCA matched donations from our Hospital teams and this added $75,000 in funds for disaster relief grants to VCA Charities.” 

That grant money was put to good use supporting disaster relief efforts for hurricanes on the East coast and fires on the West coast in the past year. “The grants go from VCA Charities to the local organizations that are in the best position to support these pets,” says West.

Individual hospital teams also pitch in. During fires in Oregon, a VCA partner shelter was in the path of danger, so the teams transferred the animals to a local hospital and provided emergency care. “Our local team members live their social responsibility and help their shelter partners and pets in every way they can. I feel so lucky to work for an organization that gives me the tools and freedom to make a difference in this way,” Beach Harlow says.  “Our hospital teams are always there to help.” 

Redistributing the love on a large scale

It’s a sad fact that some animal shelters must accept any pet that comes to them—even when they don’t have room. And without outside help, even highly adoptable pets in overcrowded facilities face euthanasia. VCA teams are working to help these desperate pets and shelters by partnering with VCA Charities, the Banfield Foundation and the PEDIGREE Foundation to fund the preventive care and transport costs to move pets from at-capacity shelters to ones with space and a waitlist of adopters. 

These ongoing transport efforts started in 2020, and in the first three months they saved 800 pets. “No one expected we could do so much in such a short period of time,” Beach Harlow says. “That success led to more support and many more pets saved since then.”

“The problem of homeless pets is so big, it requires all hands on deck,” Beach Harlow says. “And together we’re making a big difference. When I see a pet on the other end who gets adopted and lives a good life, it means the world.”

“Our veterinary teams want to work for a company that supports the greater good, and our pet owning clients care about supporting an organization that gives back,” West says. “I find this work so compelling because we’re not doing just what’s necessary—we’re doing what’s right! We’re making a contribution that’s bigger than VCA and living a purpose that can only be brought to life when we look beyond our own four walls. Taking care of the future of veterinary medicine means a focus on building a healthy planet, putting people in a position to thrive, and investing in pet well-being. That’s how we support A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.”

Inspired by the passion of the teams at VCA Animal Hospitals? Support their work by donating to VCA Charities, or ask to make a donation when you check out at any local VCA hospital.