This refers to creating a new facility to provide veterinary care that is not physically part of the shelter or a partner facility. The facility may be linked to a shelter or completely stand-alone.
When considering a project of this nature, it’s very important to have a clear idea of goals and what success will look like. It’s essential to assess unmet needs in the community, before embarking on a new project. Then set goals, based on the needs and what services you are best able to provide. Avoid duplication of effort and cost, and avoid competition for the same donor dollars.
A core principle is “nothing about us, without us”. Historically, many assistance projects have been chosen and implemented without community consultation and engagement. This is an outdated and sometimes harmful approach.
Economic and geographic factors are the greatest barriers to accessible veterinary care. Access maps of your community or region to determine which areas are most in need. Veterinary practices can be mapped to identify “veterinary deserts”. (Here’s how).
Identify existing resources in the area of interest, such as boarding, food banks, groomers, veterinary clinics, pet stores, dog training, human social services and funding opportunities.
It’s really helpful to map existing services.
For example, can you work with or near complementary services such as grooming and pet supplies?
An example of a Community Assessment document can be found here.
What services are lacking in the community of interest?
Important considerations are:
The goal of community-based veterinary care is to remove barriers to care and allow people to access services with dignity and agency.
A question that must be considered at the outset is whether or not to screen for financial need. Needs-based services are common, but this may not be the best model.
You will also need to address philosophical questions beforehand, such as whether the clinic has a requirement that clients spay/ neuter their pets, or how to manage clients who refuse vaccination at the time of spay/neuter surgery.
A model that focuses on education and partnership rather than prescription and judgment is preferable.
Community veterinary care programs struggle with the scope of service offerings. Some choose a “wide and shallow” approach (vaccination, microchips) while others choose “narrow and deep” (for example, fundraising for orthopedic surgeries). This decision will be very different for different organizations, but it’s important to be clear at the outset what services will be offered.
Constant ad hoc decision-making on a case-by-case basis is inefficient, confusing, inconsistent and fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas. This is particularly problematic when dealing with frequent events. A clear, well-communicated set of service offerings will prevent confusion and disappointment among clients and decision burn-out among staff. Of course, every system must have the flexibility to deal with outliers.
A written list, defining scope of care available in the program, is highly recommended. Decision trees can be useful and efficient supplements to such lists. This is an example of an algorithm for decision-making.
The facility could start at a level that requires the least resources and staffing, and build to a full-service model, if desired and as resources allow.
Many other parts of this guide also split up facility requirements, equipment and so on into stages, to allow organizations to build in a modular way.
Preventative Care: Vaccinations, microchips
Preventative Care (including vaccination and microchips) with Heartworm Testing/Prevention
Basic Sick Care
Extended Sick Care
Urgent or Emergency Care
In this resource, find information on creating a budget, leadership buy-in, business plans, executive summaries, and partnerships.
In this resource, find advice for websites, social media, and other marketing collateral for a new facility.
Learn more about legal requirements for your facility in this resource.
Find information about facility, equipment, and supply needs for a new facility in this resource.
In this resource, find information on staffing requirements, volunteer needs, and schedules for a new facility.
Learn about various training needs in this resource. This includes information on occupational health and safety, COVID-19, animal handling, customer service, and client mindset.
Learn more about the continuity of care and after hours care in this resource.
Learn more about medical records, data tracking, and metrics in this resource.
Find protocol development tips and sample forms and protocols for a new facility in this resource.