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Enter for a chance to win a new car, while helping RAPS improve access to pet care

Regional Animal Protection Society is fighting “economic euthanasia,” the life-and-death decisions people are forced to make about their pets
The Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS) is a Richmond-based registered charity and no-kill animal services agency. Photo via RAPS

A heartbreaking reality many pet owners face is having to make the difficult decision to euthanize their beloved furry companions due to financial constraints preventing access to veterinary care.

One B.C. animal organization is making this problem – called “economic euthanasia” – a top priority.

“No one should have to make life-and-death decisions about a family member based on ability to pay,” says Eyal Lichtmann, CEO of the Regional Animal Protection Society

The Richmond-based organization opened the nonprofit RAPS Animal Hospital in 2018. Since then, the clinic has provided more than $5.5 million in partially and fully subsidized care to animals in households with low incomes or facing other challenges.

“By taking the profit motive out of veterinary care, we are able to help more animals and their people,” Lichtmann says. “More than this, clients know that their fees are reinvested to save and improve the lives of less-fortunate animals.”

Delivering nonprofit vet care is one way the organization is addressing the problem. But, Lichtmann says, they are also confronting the underlying systemic problems that affect all Canadians.

“Inflation is a serious challenge and everything seems to cost more,” he says. “The cost of vet care is exacerbated by supply-and-demand issues, caused by shortages of veterinarians and trained staff. Plus, the simple fact is that, whenever a pet needs any kind of invasive or other significant treatment, that’s going to come as a pretty major expense.” 

This is why RAPS is urging the federal government to consider making veterinary care tax-deductible.

RAPS has also released a major white paper on economic euthanasia, which includes recommendations on how employers and benefits providers can prioritize the needs of households that include pets. (You can sign the petition here.)

Accessibility to animal care is key for the organization. The RAPS Animal Hospital is about to launch a first-ever Urgent Transport Unit, which will safely carry pets to and from the hospital.

“This is especially important for people who don’t drive,” says Lichtmann. “Or, for example, a single parent, who can’t leave the kids at home to take a sick pet to the vet."

Ensuring that economic or other barriers to access are overcome, the organization recently held a “popup” veterinary clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, providing 90 dogs and 45 cats with vaccinations, general exams and other care, as well as providing free food and items such as leashes and harnesses. 

Moreover, RAPS Animal Hospital offers the province’s only no-interest veterinary payment plan.

“Any unexpected bill can upend a household’s budget,” Lichtmann says. “We want to make sure people are able to spread the cost of an emergency across time so that people can access the care their pets need without putting their own well-being in jeopardy.

“These are all part of our mission of helping animals and their people,” says Lichtmann. “We realize that making sure animals are cared for sometimes means making sure their people have what they need to survive and thrive, too.”

RAPS also operates Canada's largest cat sanctuary. Photo via RAPS

All of these services are possible, Lichtmann emphasized, because of the support of Applewood Auto Group. The company made the entire RAPS Animal Hospital possible by donating the space that houses it. Applewood also donated the vehicle that is currently being retrofitted to serve as the Urgent Transport Unit. 

Most recently, Applewood donated a brand new Nissan Rogue Platinum – equipped with a “pet package” – which one lucky RAPS supporter will win! Tickets are available here and sales end March 5.

“Applewood is honoured to help RAPS save and improve the lives of animals,” says Christine Wishart, Director of Events & Special Projects at Applewood Auto Group. “Half of Canadian families include pets – so it is the right thing to do for our clients. More importantly, helping animals is simply the right thing to do, period.”

Revenue from the sale of tickets for the car will help RAPS save and improve the lives of even more animals.

“You can enter to win a car,” Lichtmann says. “Even if you don’t win, you are saving the lives of animals. So that’s always a win!”