Fifty million pets in the U.S. experience a lack of access to even basic veterinary care. Rising costs and other barriers mean these pets struggle to access services such as spay/neuter procedures, vaccinations and critical medical and preventative care. With as many as 70% of households now including pets, this issue affects families in nearly every community.

PetSmart Charities has committed $100 million over the next five years toward improving access to veterinary care. The “Accelerator” low-cost veterinary care grant program is a key part of this effort.  These grants support the expansion of low-cost veterinary care by funding growth and operations for up to four years for nonprofit clinics looking to expand their services, serve their communities better and inspire other veterinary providers by sharing their experiences.

The grant made to Second Chance Animal Services in the amount of $1,100,000 will support the expansion over the next three years at the nonprofit’s surgical center that provides lifesaving surgeries for animals. The anticipated impact on local pets and families includes saving the lives of more pets in need of urgent or emergency care who have nowhere else to turn.

“We are so grateful to PetSmart Charities for their continued support of our work to keep pets in their homes with the people they love,” said Sheryl Blancato, Second Chance CEO and founder. “Second Chance is a place that many turn to for lifesaving surgeries to save their pets, and to keep them together with the families that love them.”

Second Chance offers a two-tiered system of subsidized rates for pet owners at their four Community Veterinary Hospitals in North Brookfield, Southbridge, Springfield, and Worcester.  Pet owners who are 150% of the poverty level received a subsidized rate lower than Second Chance’s standard rates.  Those that do not fit in this category pay the standard low-cost rate.  This helps to ensure access to care for all pets.

Overwhelmingly, people consider their pets important members of the family. Pets make a significant impact in the health and wellness of the people they love. This grant will enable more families to get the preventative and standard care that ensures their pets thrive at home and stay out of shelters.

“Our veterinary system is in crisis,” said Kate Atema, director of community grants and initiatives at PetSmart Charities.  “Rising costs are putting standard veterinary care out of reach for as much as 50% of pet-owning families. We need innovative solutions that make veterinary care affordable for the families in every community who want the best for their four-legged companions but struggle to meet the cost of vet care. We’re inspired by the incredible work Second Chance is doing to create solutions that will build strong families and a healthy community.”

Last year, Second Chance helped over 48,000 pets including a beautiful black long-haired cat named Onyx who got into Christmas decorations. Her owner had seen Onyx chewing on tinsel and noticed that Onyx had not felt well for many days and was showing signs of being in much pain. She was seen at an emergency veterinary hospital, but her owner couldn’t afford price they quoted for surgery. Her family was grateful to learn that Second Chance veterinarians could perform the surgery at a reduced rate, allowing them to save their beloved pet. Onyx showed signs of feeling better as soon as the surgery was completed and home to celebrate the holidays with her loving family.

For more information Second Chance Animal Service’s Community Veterinary Hospitals, visit

PHOTO: Onyx’s family turned to Second Chance when he needed emergency surgery after getting into Christmas decorations.