Charity invests in program addressing access to veterinary care


PetSmart Charities of Canada will provide a program at the University of Saskatchewan with over $800,000



PetSmart Charities of Canada announced that it will provide the Northern Engagement Community Outreach (NECO) program at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) in Saskatoon with $860,000 CAD over the next 4 years. The funding will be used to support the program's efforts addressing access to veterinary care in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Canada’s northern territories.

“We’re very proud of NECO’s partnership with PetSmart Charities of Canada in addressing urgent access-to-care issues in northern communities throughout our college’s partner regions,” expressed Gillian Muir, DVM, PhD, dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at USask, in an organizational release.1 “This funding grant allows the NECO team to work with community stakeholders in gathering fundamental knowledge that will lead to improvements in practices and policies.”

According to the release, the grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada will support the leadership role of Jordan Woodsworth, DVM, PhD, director of the NECO program at WCVM.1 Woodsworth’s responsibilities will include development of vital data reports to provide organizations in the college’s partner region, such as British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Canada’s territories, with information to improve access to veterinary care practice and policies.

Woodworth and her team will also work with stakeholders to define the current state of veterinary care access within each partner region and identify improvement opportunities from both policy and practice standpoints.

Along with the data reports, the program is working to get a better understanding of what graduates of veterinary and veterinary technician training programs are learning about the spectrum of care, skills in community-engaged work, and practices that are culturally safe.

“While we know there is a pressing need to build accessible veterinary care in Canada’s remote regions, there is much more to uncover. We’re proud to support this critical research in regions excluded from the veterinary care system altogether,” Robyn Jaynes, DVM, director of veterinary affairs at PetSmart Charities of Canada, said in the release.1

“The NECO program at WCVM expects the learnings to result in more equitable access to veterinary care, while also inspiring veterinary learners to do their part to enact change,” said Jaynes. “Sharing the findings nation-wide promises to inform other pet and human serving organizations to evolve the veterinary care landscape in Canada for the better over the next decade.”

NECO was created in 2014 with the help of Woodsworth and community partners, beginning with a small spay-neuter clinic in the tri-community area of La Ronge, Air Ronge, and Lac La Ronge Indian Band. Today, NECO organizes 2 remote clinics each year. Then in 2023, the program received a $405,00 grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada to launch a 3-year pilot program for increased outreach expansion.1 The grant is used to help support the work of registered veterinary technologists who use their time to focus on NECO-related programs as well as help make connections with new communities.

“The work that we’re doing is really outside of the box. PetSmart Charities of Canada has been so flexible and enthusiastic about our partnership through frequent dialogue and embracing our creativity. They’ve asked us to share our experiences with organizations across Canada and US. It’s really exciting to get this type of support,” Woodsworth concluded.1


PetSmart Charities of Canada invests in USask program addressing access to veterinary care. News release. University of Saskatchewan. May 16, 2024. Accessed May 16, 2024.

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