Tools & Information

Man and woman squatting with gray pit bull dog with tan bench to the right

Access to Care

As an industry dedicated to helping animals find safe and loving homes, we must also be dedicated to the people who want to provide those homes. Communities, and every individual in them, are the most important component to lifesaving. 

Not every community has the same access to care for themselves and their pets. Many devoted pet owners lack access to basic resources such as stable housing, veterinary services, and pet supplies including food. Loving pet owners are too often forced to make an impossible decision that results in intake at one of our shelters and rescues. 

There is so much more that animal welfare professionals can do for our communities. We don’t just have to be their last resort. We must be a real resource for pet owners, and we should work with them to keep families together.

The housing, medical, and intake diversion resources on this page are dedicated to what we, as an industry, can do to expand access to care in our communities. Please use this information, share with your staff and volunteers, and let us know how else we can all do more. Email to share your feedback.


Best Friends, How to Start a Pet Food Pantry
Best Friends, How to Host a Vaccine Clinic
Editorial, Shelters Closing Access to Care Gap for At-Risk Communities
Podcast, Access to Care - Shannon Glenn
Template, Hearts Speak Pet Resource Guide
Town Hall, Keeping Families Together


Podcast, Leaning in and Listening
Podcast, More than 40 million Pets at Risk of Eviction
Podcast, Removing Lifesaving Barriers
Podcast, Treating Animals and People as Individuals
Town Hall, Moving Beyond Bias with CARE
Town Hall, Moving Beyond Bias with CARE 2.0
Vlog, A New Focus on Animal Control Officers
Vlog, Embracing Diversity in the Animal Welfare Movement
Vlog, Keeping America's Military Members and Their Pets Together
Webinar, Maddie's Fund, Supporting Both Ends of the Leash


Hearts Speak- This easy to edit Pet Resource Guide is meant to help you create a one-stop reference tool for your community pet owners. From how to access medical or behavior expertise in your area to guidance on rehoming or what to do with community cats and everything in between, this template can be completely customized to fit the needs of your organization and your local community. 

  • Click here to access template 
  • View a tutorial on how to use and customize the template here


Editorial, Animal Control Officers Lead Change for Shelters
Editorial, Animal Welfare Should Tear Down Walls to Pet Ownership
Editorial, Best Friends Moves to DEI
Editorial, Best Friends Staff Experiences with Racism in Animal Welfare
Editorial, Outdated Policies Prevent Shelters from Partnering with Public
Editorial, Reducing Racism in Animal Welfare
Best Friends, Humane Education
Best Friends Research, Adoption Barrier Study
Maddie's Fund, Access to Veterinary Care: A National Family Crisis