Finalist Spotlight: Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO)

Finalist Spotlight: Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO)

Portrait de Fiona Koch

Community Veterinary Outreach (Canada)
increasing access to healthcare through mobile clinics for pets and their owners


Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO) leverages the connections between marginalized people and their pets to provide healthcare to both. Through their work, CVO has found that more than 25% of homeless people keep pets to fulfill the basic human need for companionship—the trouble is most pet owners place the needs of their pets ahead of their own, which keeps them from seeking important personal and mental health services. Another challenge: some people are refused housing or hospital admittance because they have a pet.  


CVO runs mobile clinics which offer not only free veterinary care, but also free physical and emotional care for pet owners. The clinics support an integrated community care model where veterinarians are engaged as community health workers, pointing marginalized people to housing, health and social services, which in turn improves public health. 

CVO is transforming how medical services, social services, local government, and law enforcement agencies interact with homeless people, and how homeless people access essential services. So far, more than 1,800 animals have been treated in four major cities in Canada.


CVO’s program is proving to be a scalable model, one that will be helped through strategic collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. During the accelerator program held by Ashoka and Boehringer Ingelheim as part of the Making More Health: Co-Creating a Healthier World Challenge, CVO staff demonstrated the need for this service in Kansas City, Missouri, in the United States. CVO founder Dr. Michelle Lem plans to employ Boehringer Ingelheim’s expertise in the field to replicate the model to work in their U.S. Animal Health Division in Kansas City. 

Through this peer-to-peer approach, along with outreach to health services and educational institutions, there is potential for community stakeholders across extensive geographic regions to replicate the CVO's model to improve community health. And to speed the replication process, Boehringer Ingelheim is looking into supplying medical products to mobile clinics to meet the needs of more animal and human patients. 

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