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Rick DuCharme: How, why to expand access to veterinary care

Guest: Rick DuCharme founded the Jacksonville, Florida nonprofit First Coast No More Homeless Pets in 2000. When he left in 2019, it was a $10 million-a-year organization with 125 paid team members, including more than 20 veterinarians at two large safety-net hospitals; First Coast No More Homeless pets also grew to operate other lifesaving programs, including a regional pet food bank, shelter-neuter-return efforts, and mega adoption events. Rick has now founded RLD Consulting Group, LLC to help organizations anywhere that are working to save more cats and dogs; it specializes in access to veterinary care, spay/neuter clinics, and nonprofit startups. 

Main question: Why is access to veterinary care so important in animal welfare and what can organizations do to increase it?


  • Economic euthanasia may be the biggest animal welfare problem in America today – with an estimated 3 million pets a year with treatable ailments being euthanized in veterinary clinics because their owners cannot afford care. Additionally, consider the number of animals surrendered to shelters for “owner requested euthanasia” or for medical reasons. For these reasons, increasing access to veterinary care is one of the most important things animal welfare groups and shelters can do to save the lives of pets in their communities.

  • You can start by offering low-cost spay/neuter, vaccinations, and/or wellness clinics.

  • If you plan to open a low-cost or affordable clinic, be sure to set yourself up for success by:

    • Giving your community the opportunity to invest in this solution by asking them to donate to support these services.  

    • Planning to build out the facility to handle increased volume in the future – plan a facility that you will grow into.

  • It can be difficult to hire and retain veterinarians to work at nonprofit clinic. Rick’s advice:

    • Many vets wish to be part of the management team – include them. 

    • In your marketing for veterinary positions mention that you value work life balance 

    •  Be flexible with vet scheduling. 



Recorded January 12, 2021

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