News Release
July 7, 2023

In response to the unique challenges faced by Indigenous communities in accessing care for their pets, the City of Toronto has partnered with PetSmart Charities of Canada to support Indigenous pet owners facing barriers in accessing affordable veterinary care services.

PetSmart Charities of Canada has issued a $160,000 grant to the City to provide Indigenous pet owners with support and resources. The grant will be used to address various needs including:

  • Accessing affordable veterinary care, including pet vaccinations, spay/neuter procedures and preventive healthcare measures
  • Providing essential supplies to pet owners, such as pet food, toys and bedding
  • Offering education and training on pet ownership, pet behaviour and general pet care
  • Raising awareness through outreach to local Indigenous organizations and communities to enhance the well-being of both animals and pet owners

The City and PetSmart Charities of Canada understand the deep bond between humans and animals and recognize the positive impact pets have on the lives of their owners, particularly within Indigenous communities.

Through the grant, the City has hired a dedicated resource through the Indigenous Admin Trainee program to enhance communications and create programming specifically for the Indigenous community. Part of this work includes:

  • Engaging an Indigenous community facilitator to build relationships and deliver workshops for Indigenous pet owners
  • Purchasing medicines from Indigenous makers to use as offerings for meetings, events and workshops
  • Connecting with community agencies supporting Indigenous Torontonians to set up educational workshops and sharing circles with pet owners to discuss their needs and to address the barriers they face in accessing affordable services and supplies for their pets
  • Participating in various Indigenous events in Toronto where community members can access resources and “Ask a Vet” about their pet’s health and wellness.

More information about the services and resources provided by Toronto Animal Services is available on the City’s Animals & Pet’s webpage.


“Toronto Animal Services is very grateful to have the resources provided by PetSmart Charities of Canada, allowing us to connect with Toronto’s Indigenous community, learning from their experience and providing services identified as necessary by community Leaders and Members. A huge thank you to PetSmart Charities of Canada for trusting us with the generous grant and the Indigenous Community for their guidance and willingness to participate.”
– Esther Attard, Director, Toronto Animal Services, Municipal Licensing & Standards

“Through this transformative partnership, we are able to empower First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and continue to build on the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan by taking steps to improve Indigenous wellbeing – strengthening and celebrating the profound bond between humans and their devoted pets plays a crucial part in enhancing overall wellbeing.”
– Selina Young, Director, Indigenous Affairs Office, City of Toronto

“Nearly one in five Canadians struggle to access basic preventative care such as spay/neuter procedures, vaccinations and annual exams. While this issue affects families in nearly every community, those who have been historically excluded from human social services are most in need of pet services. We’re proud to support an innovative approach that meets the unique needs identified by those with lived experiences that have struggled to gain access to veterinary care themselves.”
– Kate Atema, Director, Community Grants & Initiatives, PetSmart Charities of Canada

Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation and climate action, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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