PHOENIX, April 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- As many people continue to struggle to provide necessities such as food and healthcare for themselves, many are also struggling to provide for their pets. In fact, one out of four pet owners experience barriers to obtaining veterinary care. While these barriers can range from geography to culture and language, the primary obstacle for many pet owners seeking any type of care is finances – which has likely been amplified by unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of its commitment to make affordable veterinary care accessible to communities in need and to support future veterinarians, PetSmart Charities announced the second year of the Steve Marton Veterinary Student Scholarship. Named after a former long-time chairman of PetSmart Charities' Board of Directors and champion of animal welfare, the award provides up to $50,000 for one year's tuition to a veterinary student who has demonstrated interest and aptitude to pursue a career in accessible veterinary care.
"At PetSmart Charities we believe all pet parents want to provide the best care for their pets, and we want to help them access that care in the face of challenges," said Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities. "At the same time, we know students pursue a career in veterinary medicine because they want to help all pets in need, but often struggle financially to realize their dream. This scholarship enables us to bring those two principles together by funding future veterinarians who are committed to community accessible programs."
According to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the median annual veterinary school tuition is about $53,000 for out-of-state students and $32,000 for in-state students. The total average educational debt of veterinary school graduates in 2016 ranged from over $143,000 to over $167,000, with 20% having at least $200,000 in debt. Many veterinary students rely on federal, private, and/or personal student loans to fund their education.
Devon Mims, the inaugural winner of the scholarship, is currently a third-year veterinary student at the University of Florida and works as a student clinician while volunteering to oversee cases for pet parents with disabilities and low incomes.
"For me, a career in veterinary medicine has always meant a dedication to both animals and humans in need," said Mims. "PetSmart Charities' support allows me to champion the mission of accessible veterinary care while continuing to engage and uplift individuals from marginalized communities."
About PetSmart Charities® PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps to find forever homes and families for more than 600,000 shelter pets each year. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting more than $450 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, a third-party organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 17 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org.