The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia has received a $120,000 grant from PetSmart Charities that will go toward addressing challenges in accessing veterinary care in the Latino community in Hall County and its surrounding communities.
The Humane Society said rising costs along with geographical and cultural barriers, such as language barriers, have left many communities out of the veterinary care system.
"We have such a large population of Latino community members in Hall County, and we're trying to help bridge the gap by making sure, one, that they know that there is access to vital resources that they need to be able to care for the pet," Katie Corbett, vice president of community impact at HSNEGA said. "And that they know where to access those and how to access those and that they're just available for them in general."
PetSmart Charities announced early in 2023 a $100 million commitment over the next five years toward improving access to veterinary care. The grant that the humane society recently received falls under one of those previously announced programs.
"We were very honored to be able to receive it," Corbett said. "There were over 100 organizations that applied for it, and only 10 out of the country received it."
Latino communities were selected to be the focus of the first cohort for the grant.
The humane society says 70% of American homes have pets, but access to basic veterinary care has not kept pace with those numbers, particularly in communities with additional barriers.
"There is a large divide between populations of people within the community," Corbett said. "So if you go to one end of the county, you may see people that are living below the poverty line. You go to the other end of the county, you see people that are living well above their means. There's a lot of diversity in Hall County. We do have a very large amount of Latino community members, but even looking within ourselves and looking at our own organization, we realize we don't have a lot of Latino community members on staff."
Corbett said the organization plans to make some additions to its staff as they start this new program. Specifically, they are looking at adding members from the Latino community to their staff as they develop the program.
"Instead of taking pre-planned solutions into selected communities, grantees will build relationships and assess specific needs, first," a press release from the humane society reads. "This ensures that communities that have been left out are deliberately included in deciding how and when they will access the healthcare they need for their pets."