Helping Paws

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Hannah Stevens

You can also take a look at the pet grants from all the other states.


Helping Paws keeps military families together with their pets. Too often, troops are not able to afford unexpected veterinary bills even if they are willing to pay the ultimate cost. They offer low-cost and free veterinary care for veterans and service personnel in need. Many vets could be forced to make the difficult decision of early relinquishment or worse, economic euthanasia without this 501(c)(3).

Helping Paws provides assistance to military families who are in urgent need of veterinary care. They can help you cover costs that you cannot afford, so it is encouraged that you reach out to family and other organizations for more funding. Click Help Agencies to see a complete list of resources.

How to Qualify for Help

  • If your pet is injured or ill in San Diego County; however, they do not provide routine care such as spay/neutering or dental cleanings
  • If the owner is an active-duty service member or veteran
  • If the applicant is experiencing financial hardship

Application Process

  • Fill out the Help Request Form
  • All adults must apply for Scratch Pay or Care credit. Then, submit the Care Credit’s decision and family photos with your pet at [email protected]
  • If you are eligible, they will send you an email to arrange a free exam at any participating North County San Diego hospital.
  • Please notify them of your appointment time and bring proof of military service and recent veterinary records.
    • The hours are M-F from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They encourage the earliest available appointment to allow them enough time to review the estimate and application.
  • They will work with your vet in order to determine the amount of financial assistance that they can offer. The funding is sent directly to your provider.

They do not accept incomplete applications.

IF YOU DO NOT APPLY FOR SCRATCH PAY OR CARE CREDIT: You will need to provide proof of financial hardship. Send them a screenshot of your current savings and checking balances via email. If you don’t have a bank account, you can submit a 1040 tax form, Social Security Income, Unemployment, or any other government assistance paperwork. Please send these via email at [email protected]


  • Pet owners are required to pay as much as possible towards the treatment of their pet.
  • Recipients agree that Helping Paws may use their story, photos, and video. They encourage recipients to share, like, and post on social media and do Facebook fundraisers on their behalf.
  • After treatment, recipients agree to sign a testimonial.
  • To enable Helping Paws to assist more military families, recipients are encouraged to pay it forward.

Its also worth taking a look at San Diego Animal Support Foundation and Shanti Project – PAWS Client Services.