The Centre hospitalier universitaire vétérinaire (CHUV) of the Université de Montréal has received an innovative grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada® in the amount of 40 000$ to address challenges in accessing veterinary care in Pakuashipi, an Innu village on the Basse-Côte-Nord.

Rising costs combined with geographical and cultural barriers have left many communities out of the veterinary care system altogether. The Incubator grant program supports innovative and culturally relevant veterinary programs targeted toward Indigenous communities across Canada.

While 60% of Canadian households include pets, access to basic veterinary services has not kept pace. Pets are universally considered important family members and keeping them together with loving families requires resources that are often missing. This is particularly felt in many Indigenous communities where not only cost, but geography and historical exclusion from systems has left veterinary care beyond reach. Early in 2023, PetSmart Charities of Canada, the top funder of animal welfare in the country, committed $18 million over five years toward improving access to veterinary care. The Incubator grants focus on historically excluded communities, many of which lack access to community supports, including veterinary services.

The CHUV has been chosen as part of this year’s Incubator grantees, designed to give veterinary organizations a one-year runway to build relationships with and deepen their understanding of their partner community. Tasked with enlisting support of local changemakers, the grantees agree to co-creating models of care alongside communities.

The CHUV’s objective is to extend its services to unserved communities in Northern Quebec, and to develop innovative population control techniques. Obtaining this grant will enable us to offer veterinary services to the community of Pakuashipi, a village of 350 inhabitants on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River that is inaccessible by road. The services offered will include vaccination and control of the dog population using subcutaneous implants. An initial visit took place this spring to assess needs.

This community medicine project will be carried out with respect for the local population’s history and traditional knowledge. For this reason, the needs and acceptability of the project to the community will be studied from the very first year of the project. The project team can draw on the expertise of several members of the faculty community, in general medicine, animal reproduction and veterinary epidemiology, to meet the specific needs of this community, in addition to extensive field experience with aboriginal communities in remote areas.
Among other things, this project will expose veterinary students to a whole new reality in the practice of veterinary medicine, and provide them with an incredible human experience that will accompany them throughout their career” said Dr. Yves Rondenay, in charge of the program.

With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action integrated into the approach, grantees were asked to build relationships and assess specific needs first. This ensures that communities themselves are full participants in the care they need for their pets.

“Most people today consider pets family, yet nearly 1 in 5 Canadians face challenges in accessing even basic preventative care such as spay/neuter procedures, vaccinations and annual exams,” said Kate Atema, director of community grants & initiatives at PetSmart Charities of Canada. “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 be contributing to care that meets the unique needs identified by those living in the communities themselves.”

About PetSmart Charities of Canada®
PetSmart Charities of Canada is committed to making the world a better place for pets and all who love them. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the country, PetSmart Charities of Canada helps thousands of pets connect with loving families each year. PetSmart Charities of Canada also provides grant funding to support organizations that advocate and care for the well-being of all pets and their families. Our grants and efforts connect pets with loving homes through adoption, improve access to affordable veterinary care and support families in times of crisis with access to food, shelter, and emergency relief. Each year, thousands of generous supporters help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities of Canada directly at, while shopping at, and by using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities of Canada efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in Canada, granting more than $35 million since its inception in 1999. Independent from PetSmart LLC, PetSmart Charities of Canada is a registered Canadian charity. To learn more visit

Petsmart charities of canada logo