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Measuring The Impacts Of Pets For Life On Access To Care In Four Underserved Communities

Although there has been recent growth in community-based companion animal welfare programming, there is a lack of research and understanding of the efficacy of these programs. Further, literature suggests that there are social and structural barriers that could be informing pet owners’ perceived access to these programs and services. The Humane Society of the United States’ Pets for Life (PFL) program is working to promote equity in communities who have historically experienced a lack of geographical access to pet care services. This study tested the hypothesis that PFL’s approach reduces perceived barriers to pet care services. The impacts of the PFL program were measured in two rural and two urban U.S. communities over three years (2018-2020) using the One Health Community Assessment (OHCA), an instrument that measures individual’s perceptions of their access to human, animal, and environmental health services. Propensity Score Matching was used to control for demographic factors. Comparisons of aggregated and disaggregated OHCA results were conducted using Generalized Estimating Equations on both the community (i.e. intervention vs. control site) and individual participant (i.e. PFL client vs. non-client) level. This study found that PFL’s unique community-based outreach approach decreases perceived language and financial barriers to veterinary care and services. This study increases our understanding of the nuanced factors that impact the health and welfare of people and their companion animals.