Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Veterinary care is vital and should be accessible to all animals.
Companion animals plagued by homelessness, abuse and neglect rely solely on animal shelters and animal rescues to facilitate their veterinary care.
It's common for animal rescues to lack the funding needed to create their own veterinary spaces, let alone have any paid veterinary staff on their teams.
This makes it increasingly important for animal rescues just like yours to develop strong relationships with local veterinary care providers.
In this article, we're going to give you some helpful tips to help you get started!
Building Relationships with Veterinary Providers is Easier Than You Think.
It's normal for animal rescues to feel intimidated by the process of providing veterinary care to animals in need.
After all, veterinary care is expensive and raising the funds needed to provide veterinary care to each of the animals in your care is not an easy thing to do!
But rest assured - it's a lot easier than you think!
It's relatively easy for animal rescues to access veterinary care at a fraction of its usual cost, simply by developing strong relationships with local veterinary care providers.
Some veterinary providers will already have experience working with animal rescues and these providers may have an offer to present your animal rescue with regarding their fees.
However, some veterinarians may not be familiar with working with animal rescues especially if you are one of the only animal rescues in your community.
In instances like these, you’ll need to be prepared to negotiate the veterinary care provider’s fees.
You’ll also want to negotiate a payment plan with your veterinary care.
Building relationships is easy when your visions align.
Your animal rescue has a mission statement and we're going to guess that somewhere in that mission statement you mention saving animals!
Now let's think. What other organizations or professions are determined to save animals? If you guessed your local veterinarians, then you guessed right!
Veterinarians are usually veterinarians because they want to save animals. Why wouldn't they be interested in helping your animal rescue save more animals?
Veterinary care providers help animal rescues more than you can imagine!
Believe it or not, it's not uncommon for veterinary clinics to offer services to animal rescues at discounted rates.
It's also not uncommon to see one veterinary clinic provide discounted services to several animal rescues at a time.
Sometimes veterinarians will even go as far as to provide free services to animal rescues.
Examples of free services provided to animal rescues commonly include services that would otherwise be relatively inexpensive like micro-chipping or vaccinating animals in need.
Believe it or not, your animal rescue can provide your veterinary care provider with a lot of value.
Veterinary care providers are not always busy!
Did you know that some veterinary care providers struggle to fill their schedules?
Empty time slots on a veterinary clinic's schedule usually indicate that during that specific hour the clinic will make no money but still be required to pay their staff for that hour.
Needless to say, veterinarians want to fill all of the empty time slots on their schedule.
If a veterinarian can offer your animal rescue a discounted spay or neuter during that empty time slot, to help fight animal homelessness - why wouldn't they?
Instances like this are a great opportunity for your animal rescue to provide value to local veterinary care providers.
Your animal rescue can easily leverage this value - by reaching out to the right veterinarian.
You can find prospective veterinary providers to work with by reaching out to other animal rescues in your area.
In most instances, these organizations will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
If you know of any new veterinary clinics who've been around for less than 5 years, then you should reach out to them too!
When you contact your local veterinary clinic you need to ask to speak to either the office manager or to the owner of the establishment directly!
Those are the two professionals who can give you a rough idea as to whether their veterinary clinic willing to help your animal rescue achieve its mission.
Here's How to Set Up Meetings with Local Veterinary Providers.
Building a relationship with a veterinary provider is serious business.
Your animal rescue needs to make it a point to treat it as such.
You can start by knowing exactly what you'd like your animal rescue's veterinary clinic to do for your organization before approaching them.
Here are some common examples of the services your animal rescue may need:
Other services on a case by case basis
Here are some examples of common accommodations that an animal rescue may need:
Discounted veterinary rates
The option to create a tab up to a specified amount that both parties agree to and make payments towards that tab every month. (Ie. $2500, $5000)
The requirement that the veterinary provider set aside time to fill out your animal rescue's medical disclosures.
You'll need to set up a business meeting between the members of your animal rescue's Board of Directors and the veterinary clinic's owner(s) or office manager.
You'll need to be professional during this meeting. As a representative of your animal rescue, it's important to put your best foot forward!
You'll need to have materials with information about your animal rescue available to the veterinary clinic's owner(s) or office manager.
You'll want these materials to show the veterinary clinic's owner(s) or office manager why they should work with your animal rescue.
Sell them on your organization's mission and explain how your organization intends to achieve that mission.
Your animal rescue’s business plan and annual report will serve as very valuable documents when you’re trying to sell a veterinary care provider on why they should assist your animal rescue at a fraction of the cost.
You’ll also need to have an estimate as to what your budget for veterinary care will be each month.
Your Animal Rescue Needs to Always Approach Your Relationship you’re your Veterinarian with a High Level of Integrity.
Honesty is the best policy. We cannot stress that enough!
You cannot maintain a fruitful relationship with your organization's veterinary provider unless you are honest and candid throughout the duration of the relationship.
It’s important to set realistic expectations by being completely honest with your veterinarian about your organization's financial ability to cover your organization's veterinary bills.
In instances where your animal rescue is struggling to meet your financial obligations to your vet – don’t ghost them!
Instead, do your best to keep your vet in the loop. Communication is key! Be transparent!
Your vet might even have some suggestions on what you can do to raise a bit of extra money.
Remember your veterinary care clinic is not some third party entirely removed from your animal rescue.
Instead, your veterinary care clinic is full of animal lovers who all have a vested interest in seeing your organization succeed at achieving your organizational goals.
That sounds like any other donor, foster parent or volunteer doesn’t it?
Your Animal Rescue Needs to Always Respect Your Veterinary Clinic's Time and Expertise.
Veterinary clinics have tight schedules. These busy professionals will be taking time away from their busy schedules to do your animal rescue a favour.
Your organization needs to show appreciation for that - at all costs.
You can show appreciation for your veterinary provider by making sure your team shows up early for each and every appointment!
If your animal rescue is dependent on foster parents to take their foster animals to veterinary appointments then you'll need to stress the importance of them showing up on time!
There are a lot of other things you can do to show your veterinary team how much you appreciate them!
Shouting your veterinary team out on your animal rescue's social media accounts is another great way to show them how appreciated they really are!
Remember to Always Remain Consistent with Your Animal Rescue's Veterinary Provider.
Veterinary bills are going to pile up - it's inevitable.
Your animal rescue needs to pay your veterinary bills consistently even if you don't have enough funding to cover the bill in full.
It's still important to make sure your animal rescue makes at the very least, a minimum payment towards your animal rescue's veterinary bill each and every month.
If your animal rescue is struggling to secure the funding needed to cover veterinary bills, you can subscribe to Rescue Corner to learn more about fundraising for animal rescues.
You can also reach out to us. We’re more than happy to help your organization develop a long term plan to acquire the funding you need to save more animals in your community!
Animal Rescues Need to Treat the Veterinarians with Care.
If you’re going to keep one thing in mind it should be that you and your vet are teammates, working together to achieve an amazing mission!
Your local veterinary clinic will agree to help your animal rescue because they genuinely believe in your organization's mission.
Your veterinary team is one of your animal rescue's greatest assets.
It only makes sense for you to care for them as much as they care about you!
It's also a great idea to provide your veterinary team with progress reports on how well your animal rescue's animals are doing in their new homes.
Maintaining your animal rescue's relationship with your veterinary care provider is an important part of ensuring your animal rescue's success.
Subscribe to Rescue Corner for more tips to help your animal rescue achieve your mission.