Access to Care

Numerous studies have shown the benefits to humans from animal companionship. The GTHS will work with the community to help keep families together during times of emergency or crisis.

The GTHS will work to support pet owners through proactive and responsive strategies which include the following programs: 

  • Emergency Medical Assistance Services (EMAS) Program
  • Emergency Boarding (for situations of temporary loss of housing or domestic violence)
  • Pet Pantry

The GTHS recognizes that there is a growing gap in the ability for pet owners to access veterinary care. Also, the number one reason for pet relinquishment to animal shelters is due to medical bills. To help keep families together, the GTHS offers financial assistance to the owners of pets who are unable to afford the veterinary expenses associated with a medical emergency.  

Pet owners must be referred to this program by a licensed veterinarian and admittance to the program is considered only after all criteria have been met and is granted at the discretion of the GTHS.

Service Details:

Pet owners who wish to access the EMAS program must be referred by a licensed veterinarian with whom they have a pre-existing veterinary-client relationship. The veterinarian will specify the request and the estimated cost to the GTHS, and the pet owner will then fill in an application form provided by their vet.

Pet owners must also demonstrate the following:

Preventative Care – they must have provided their pet with basic preventative and maintenance care. Care includes rudimentary shelter, appropriate fresh food, and water daily and preventative veterinary care. Applicants whose pets are ill due to neglected care or lack of maintenance care will not be considered for funding. In some cases, past records displaying proof of care may be requested.

Prompt Medical Care – they must have provided their pet with prompt medical care when the need was urgent or critical. In instances where surgery, therapy, or supportive treatments are recommended, but the pet owner could not afford them, basic medical care, or support to help with the pet’s quality of life, lessen pain or suffering should be demonstrated. The pet’s medical needs cannot have been neglected past reasonable time for treatment, which may have caused the animal to suffer.

The following services will be covered:

  • One-time, non-elective emergency surgeries for pets between the age of 8 weeks and 8 years. Examples include blocked urethras, broken bones, life-threatening dental disease, wounds requiring intervention or surgery.
  • Chronic or potentially chronic conditions will not be covered.
  • Humane euthanasia with care of remains via communal cremation.

These are the steps that will be taken:

  1. Pet is taken to the family (primary care). Veterinarian where a physical exam is performed.
  2. Pet Owners fill in an EMAS application form with their vet. An estimated cost to GTHS is required.
  3. Application is approved or declined.
  4. Program agreement is signed by the GTHS, the pet owner and the participating veterinary hospital. A quote for services is included and agreed upon.
  5. Veterinary hospital invoices the GTHS Emergency Fund for services provided.

Donations are gratefully accepted to fund this program.

For more information on this program, please call (705) 445-5204 ext. 221 or email

The GTHS knows that 56% of woman will delay leaving a situation of domestic violence if a pet is in the home. As such, the GTHS offers short term housing for the pets of people in crisis through the Emergency Boarding program. This is a last resort program for individuals experiencing crisis and are unable to care for their animals temporarily and is offered within the limits of our available resources. People who are fleeing domestic violence, homeless because of a disaster such as flooding or fire, or those who have suffered a medical emergency or are entering a recovery program or rehab center would qualify for this service. 

Service Details:

Individuals requiring access to the EB Program must be referred by or verified by a recognized service agency or professional, such as a Women’s Shelter, Social Worker, or Disaster Response Worker (EMS, Fire fighter, or Police Officer). Admittance to the program is considered only after all criteria have been met and is granted at the discretion of the GTHS.

  • GTHS will require an EB referral form from the referring agency.
  • Boarding is limited to 2 pets of the same species per family (at the discretion of GTHS).
  • Proof of ownership, vaccination history, health care documentation, and ID are required, if available.
  • The client is required to sign an EB Owner Agreement.
  • Animals will receive an Intake Exam where they will receive a core vaccine and parasite treatments if necessary. Other medical care will be at owner’s expense.
  • Animals may be housed offsite at the Society’s discretion.
  • Animal provided with daily food, water, socialization, and exercise.
  • Visitation is not permitted; however, the owner can call to check on status of the animal.
  • Strictly confidential – client anonymity is guaranteed.
  • Owners must provide 42 hours’ notice before reclaiming their pet(s).
  • At the end of the board period, if collection by the owner has not been arranged, the animal(s) will become property of GTHS and will enter the adoption program.

For more information, please contact the Foster and Intake Coordinator at (705) 445-5204 ext. 210 or email

At the GTHS, we know that when a family is struggling to put food on the table, pets are impacted too. We are committed to helping pets and people thrive and recognize that, at times, pet owners will prioritize food for their pets over nutrition for themselves.

Unfortunately, the cost and ability to acquire pet food can often prove to be insurmountable obstacles for vulnerable segments of our population. The GTHS Pet Pantry program strives to remove these obstacles and keep people with their pets for their physical health as well as their emotional well-being. 

This service is strictly confidential.

To access the GTHS Pet Pantry Service, please call (705) 445-5204, ext. 223 or email

We are always accepting donations of unopened bags of dry dog and cat food for the Pet Pantry Service.

The GTHS recognizes that many communities in Ontario and beyond experience serious challenges accessing care for their pets. Challenges can include socio-economic barriers, geographic distance, and veterinary shortages.

We believe that by increasing access to care for underserved communities, the bar is raised for all animals.

As resources allow, the GTHS will work collaboratively with volunteers, donors, and community members to increase access in underserved communities. Our work could include animal transfers, wellness clinics, spay/neuter services, or access to other requested resources. Priority will be placed on situations that are emergent in nature.

As an organization, we are always being mindful about our language surrounding our northern partners and Indigenous communities. To maintain our relationships, it is imperative that we show respect by employing appropriate terminology and language.

Please use the chart below as a reference.



Indigenous community, territory, or reserve.

If you are using First Nation community, ensure that it is an actual First Nation community.

Relocating or transferring dogs.Rescue or save these dogs

We are working in collaboration with the community.

Working side by side with the leaders.

We went up to save/help.

We were asked to help.

Community dogs or free roaming community dogs.Stray dogs, Street dogs, neglected dogs, homeless, Dogs living in deplorable conditions or Dogs living on the streets, etc.
We are grateful to be working in partnership/side by side with these northern communities and northern rescues.We had to help….
GTHS Animal Transfer Team/Program.

Investigations, Rescue & Relief team, Officers.

No reference to authority.

Gathering, preparing the dogs for their journey down south.Capture or trapping dogs.


Read more information about spay/neuter services, the Community Cats Program and special clinics we offer to the local communities. 

Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!