When The HSUS's Pets for Life team met Philadelphia resident Amalia Acosta and her dog, Fiero, in 2012, Amalia was in tears. She faced the tough decision of giving Fiero up: she loved him very much, but the strong and energetic dog was hard for the older woman, who had recently had heart surgery, to handle. Pets for Life swung into action, helping Amalia and Fiero get enrolled in dog training classes, where Amalia learned how to handle Fiero's energy and strength, and walk him safely on a leash. Four years on, Fiero and Amalia are still happily together and even have a new dog and a new cat in the family.
The Pets for Life program is a great example of the direct, hands-on work that The HSUS does in communities across the United States. Recently, this life-saving, life-changing program hit a major milestone: 100,000 pets helped with veterinary care and services in underserved communities. On Giving Tuesday today, we are celebrating and highlighting this unique program that keeps and supports pets in loving homes, and that has made such a meaningful impact in just the four years that it's been around.
An estimated 23 million pets in the United States are in homes where their caretakers live at or below the poverty level, and that typically leaves the animals without access to veterinary care. The goal of Pets for Life is to take veterinary care and services to these homes, ensuring access for all pets regardless of their location or income level.
Currently, Pets for Life works in four core cities where our staff is on the ground helping pets and their people every day: besides Philadelphia, we are also in Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Additionally, we have 31 mentorship communities in which grants are provided to local organizations, supported mainly by PetSmart Charities. Our team provides in-depth training and ongoing guidance to these communities. In coming years, we hope to continue growing our work in the four core cities, and to add more mentorship markets.