Utilizing Existing Veterinary Practices to Provide External Facing Medical Care

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Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender (PASS)

PASS works to create an immediate intervention for people who believe they have to surrender their pet to a shelter but don’t want to and would rather find an alternative solution. That intervention can be virtual rehoming, raising funds for medical care, finding temporary placement or other types of support (food, transportation, fence building) by leveraging an active base of people in a community who want to help.

What problem does the PASS program solve?

Unnecessary surrender to shelters (especially for medical reasons in this example).  You can watch a short 15 min presentation on all the PASS Program does in addition to medical intake diversion.

How Organizations Can Begin

Phase One: Build Your Program Foundation

Build a PASS Manager job description– start simple – one page of bullets. 


Build volunteer team job descriptions:
    1. FB facilitator – triage comments/posts, edit, escalate
    2. Covering shifts to ensure 7 day a week coverage
    3. Answering emails


Set “rules” for communication and preplanned pathways for animals and people in need
    1. Response time expectations
    2. Professionalism
    3. Acceptable responses for pathways
    4. Clear expectations around what gets a person banned from the page


Create pathway to accept funds for patients
    1. We prefer having donors call and pay the vet clinic directly rather than a “go fund me” that goes to the pet owner
    2. Set up a button on your page to accept donations for emergency use generally if people want a tax deduction
      1. These funds cannot be allocated to an individual animal due to process limitations
    3. Pre-set relationships with press outlets to share success stories


Prepare for late night medical emergencies
    1. Most needs happen at night and are urgent
    2. Develop relationships with Emergency Clinics in your area
    3. Be prepared to urgently crowdfund in these situations by making your post sound as dire as it is
    4. Always ask if owner can afford a portion of the bill
    5. Always ask owner to ask vet to do minimum overnight so that there is more time to fundraise in the morning (need to keep fundraising until all is raised as emergencies can’t wait more than a few hours)


Develop canned content (examples in Appendix of PASS Guide) on things like:
  • How to Handle Calls About Abused, Neglected, Injured or Roaming Animals
  • FIV and FeLV
  • Parvo
  • What to do when they find a dog or cat
  • How to screen adopters (if they are rehoming their animal)
  • List with Local low cost veterinarians
  • Wildlife
  • Other Pets (besides cats and dogs)
  • Resources for animals with behavioral problems
  • Puppy and Kitten Season
  • Responses for other shelters needing help


Create a way to keep track of data.
  • Number of people in need
  • Types of need
  • Outcomes

Tip: Find ideas in the Case Management toolkit.


Inform the rest of the organization about what PASS is and why it is needed


Use the PASS Resource Guide to fill out more of these areas

Phase Two: Create Ways for People to Reach Your Organization

Start a Facebook group apart from the main organization page.

The Austin PASS page is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PassAPA


Set up a pass@(your org name) email address.

Promote the Facebook group and email address on your organization’s main website and social media channels.


Create a google voice line (free) to accept calls- these are translated into email so that your email facilitators can triage with other emails.

Accessible to members of the community who aren’t on social media where the case manager can post on their behalf.

Phase Three: Build Your Network of Support

Collect C.O.I.N.s! Clinic Outreach Initiative Network
  • Connect with clinics and office managers to check for existing opportunities for low cost or free support 
    • You can export local rescues, clinics, or related organizations from a Google Map search to a spreadsheet using this guide.
  • Build a rapport and database of staff within those clinics
  • Inform and educate them of what you’re doing and why
Engage with posts and admins on social media.
  • Build your following by sharing posts from other groups, commenting on posts and offering help on your page
  • Use Findhelp.org to connect with other Animal Welfare orgs
Should you advertise PASS?
  • It is a catch 22 because you may not be able to handle the volume of pleas for help but you need supporters to join in order to see the posts
  • We recommend that you:
    • advertise on your organization’s “donate now” page so that you are advertising to donors
    • Ask donors to join the page if they love filling “chip ins” for pets in need in your shelter (make sure they know you still need their support there too)
    • Use Facebook to find people who want to support others and engage as in (b.) above.

Phase Four: Start Helping People

Practice until you get the results you need.


Wording matters. It has to be compelling.

Often, letting the owner post themselves is more effective than posting for them.


Use photos that tell the story.
  • Children hugging the pet.
  • Pet with an injury.
  • Graphic photos are okay with warning labels.

What does success look like?

If successfully implemented, the PASS program will:

  • Fund all of its needs through urgent crowdsourcing 
  • Have a high percentage of animals who are kept with their owners rather that turned into the shelter
  • Target the animals really in need rather than be a free for all
  • 100% safe post/comment space- all negative or judgemental commenters are censored and removed if needed
  • Develop a robust following to ensure constant help

What is the downside?

  1. It’s important that the staff and volunteers are equipped with self care support, case management education and training and understand clearly the difference between help and becoming emotionally involved.  This is an emotionally taxing and difficult job that operates on fast deadlines in life and death matters. 
  2. There is a steep learning curve for volunteers and staff so it is important that workers are selected carefully for long term commitment.
  3. Recruiting of page followers is a constant process to ensure that there is always a large enough pool for donations. 
  4. This may require a rethinking of how your organization views pet owners, especially those who cannot afford medical care. The entire staff should probably be coached through that mental shift away from judgement and towards support.
  5. There can be a natural competition with the shelter’s fundraising to support the in shelter animals so work out how to prevent solicitation of organization donors  in advance.
  6. If advertised too broadly, the request for help can be too big to handle and may encourage people who can afford veterinary care to use the page.

PASS Type Programs in Shelters

Collaborating with Local Veterinary Hospitals

Most communities have veterinarians that serve the public, even if a shelter doesn’t have veterinary staff. Since one of the primary drivers of relinquishment of owned animals is the health of the animal, working with existing practices can be the lowest hanging fruit without the expense of running your own public facing clinic or managing a crowdsourcing page. Helping veterinarians understand the gap in access to care, the techniques around Incremental Care and the ways they can offer financing to owners who can pay but maybe not right now and who don’t qualify for Care Credit can bring your community together to help more people and animals.

Payment Resources for Private Veterinarians